Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Local Bar/Restaurant and a neighboring Township's varying Asian fare.

It was a long work week.  I mean, really long.  I swear Tuesday felt like it should be Thursday and it just went downhill from there.

We celebrated the end of the long week with Loving Hut and a giant, beautiful jug of Carlo Rossi.  More on Loving Hut later (no more about our old pal Carlo need be said.)

One of the unbelievably long days this week - I truthfully do not remember which one - I met up with Gina and one of her co-workers at a restaurant/bar in our hometown of Kennedy Twp. that I have been meaning to go to for a long time, The Tower Lounge (the link doesn't go to a webpage for them, I couldn't find one.  Instead the link goes to their menu.)

I arrived late, having worked overtime.  The place was much larger on the inside than I had thought that it would be with walls just exploding with Pittsburgh Pirates paraphernalia.  The bar is located in the center of the room, tables are along the walls.  The place had few customers when I arrived - Gina and her co-worker were the only people occupying a table, there were a couple of people sitting at the long bar who appeared to be regulars.

I'm going to be honest - I didn't really read the menu.  Cut me some slack, though - it was a long day! 

Gina let me know that there were not an overwhelming array of veg friendly options on the menu, but that the pizza sounded good (Side note:  There are a great many Pizza places in Kennedy twp, as I have mentioned in past posts.  They range in quality, but nearly all say that they have won the honor, somehow, of being THE BEST PIZZA IN PITTSBURGH - The Tower Lounge makes no such claim, as far as I could tell, but the pizza was really, really good - so maybe they should.)  So we ordered a pizza.

A slice of said pie looked like this:

What really won me over, though, was the hot pepper flakes they provided.  Advice to restaurants globally - you can all learn something from The Tower Lounge.  When your customer asks for hot pepper flakes for their pizza pie, please give them this:

Yes, that is a gigantic glass jar shaker FULL of delicious hot pepper flakes.  Oh, and BTW, the picture is blurry ON PURPOSE so as to give you the effect of the three Straub's that I downed almost immediately upon arrival that night (see prior notes regarding long, hellish week).

The pizza was very good, the staff were very attentive and friendly, and the atmosphere was great - we definitely plan on going back.

So after that night, we made it somehow through the remainder of the week and finally found ourselves, Friday night, at Loving Hut - our neighbor, Robinson Twp's vegan restaurant (In pondering Robinson Twp as a choice of locations for a storefront on the part of the Loving Hut chain, it's a mystery to us too.).

A creature of habit, I have to confess I have been to Loving Hut many times since it's mysterious opening not long ago - but I have only ordered two things from the menu - and both are giant bowls of soup.

We started off with an order of Spring Rolls.  "Spring Rolls in the late fall!" - you gasp.  Yes.  I didn't stutter.  And they looked like this:

Standing guard on either side of them is Gina's iced cappuccino and my (less than great) green-drink-whose-name-I-cant-remember.  I wanted it to taste like some kind of green tea/bubble tea asian goodness - but instead it tasted exactly like sprite with orange juice dumped in it and green food coloring added for ambiance.

The Spring Rolls were wonderful - that's peanut sauce in the middle (we encourage double dipping).

I have a weakness for large bowls of soup.  Really, I could eat soup for every meal if I could.  Even in the summer.  Rain or shine.  National Holidays, religious holidays - it's always a soup day in my book.

As I mentioned before, I have only had two things on the Loving Hut menu and they are Pho, the delicious giant bowl of Vietnamese goodness - and Bun Hue (sometimes called Bun bo Hue), also a large bowl of soup of Vietnamese origin.

I got Bun Hue this time, it's likeness is displayed below:

Bun Hue is named for the city of Hue in central Vietnam - the one time capital of the country.  The real deal dish is most definitely not vegetarian let alone vegan, being a broth based on beef bones and shank with fermented shrimp sauce added in, and obviously having never tried the for reals version, I dont know how close Loving Hut came to replicating it as a vegan alternative.  The Loving Hut version has a miso-ish broth, rice noodles, and what I believe are thin slices of seitan as a nod to the slices of beef shank in the original soup.  There are also strips of cooked tofu, mushrooms and cilantro to be found.  A side dish is served with it with what I believe is cut cabbage, and a sliver of lemon to squeeze into the soup.

But all of that is totally overshadowed by this:

Yes, thats right - each table has its very own bottle of Sriracha.  Always a win for me.

Gina got Loving Huts veggie burger which she said is very, very good:

To finish things off - I went grocery shopping with my Dad today and after we went to Ya Fei (in Robinson - yeah, if you are thinking, "Why does Robinson have all these restaurants of varying cultural variety?", we wonder the same thing.)

We were in time for the lunch special menu - and they had General Tso's Tofu as an option!  I asked the waiter if their Hot and Sour soup was vegetarian thinking it was almost definitely not - but I shouldn't assume - it is! (and it's awesome).

The Hot and Sour soup looked like this:

And the General Tso's Tofu looked a little somethin' like this:

The tofu was crisp on the outside, and very soft on the inside.  While I typically prefer it to be really firm all the way through - this was done really nicely.  It was in a brown sauce that was decent - both salty and sweet (and probably very American).

That all I got for now.

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