dinner

The Twisted Frenchman (Pittsburgh, PA)

Have you ever wondered why we eat the food we eat?  Who in their right mind, dug into the ocean, and ate an oyster raw and said it’s an “aphrodisiac”.  That’s how I feel about some of the foods I eat.  I mean, I still eat it like it’s my last meal, but that’s not the point.  Who took a duck or a goose, put a tube down its mouth, then cut its liver out only to cook its fat.  There are so many foods that I haven’t eaten, and I doubt I’ll be able to taste all of them before I die, but it’s just interesting to see how these concepts come about.

The Twisted Frenchman is located off of Baum Blvd in Pittsburgh, PA.  It’s an “upscale” Modern French restaurant that includes cocktails and wines.  The restaurant is divided into two parts.  Bar Frenchman, which is on the lower level and specializes in drinks of course, and Twisted Frenchman which is on the upper level where you’ll order your traditional menu items from.  Both entities offer food and drink menu’s, it’s just one specializes in what the other doesn’t.

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My visit was pretty interesting for the most part.  I can tell that this restaurant prides itself on service.  I almost thought I was at a Michelin Star restaurant until the food came out.  Too soon?  Well, as people in the universe say, “take the good with the bad” I can use that analogy with this place, but the bad wasn’t exactly “bad”.  I was able to try six dishes which included Lobster Bisque, Grains and Asparagus, Foie Gras, Scallops, Sea Bass, and Duck.  I’ll start with the Lobster Bisque.  I for one think it’s very “cheap” for lack of better words, for a restaurant to offer Lobster Bisque and not include any pieces of lobster in it.  Not one chunk of lobster claw or tail was included in this soup.  Very frustrating.  The soup was okay, and it was on the saltier side, but the component of spices were missing from this dish.  Oh, along with lobster.

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The second dish was Grains and Asparagus.  It included smoked buckwheat, quinoa, red pepper, ramp, egg yolk, and sunchokes.  I’ll be honest with you, as I always am, this wasn’t my favorite dish.  I can understand how someone who is into vegetables and going more of the vegetarian route would enjoy it but this dish wasn’t for me.  I thought it would be a warm dish, but it was cold.  Very cold at that.  Quinoa is usually ordered warm, but maybe it’s my mistake for not asking if this dish was hot or cold.  Usually, the menu will explain if this is a chilled dish if it isn’t warm.  The asparagus however were great and the presentation was beautiful as well.  This was my first time having smoked buckwheat, which had an interesting dry texture to it.

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The third dish that was ordered was the Foie Gras.  Remember during my introduction when I asked what possessed people to stuff a ducks mouth and then pan sear its liver?  Well, I thought about that while I was “ducking” this up.  This Foie Gras was cooked to perfection.  Perfectly seared on both sides and was served on top of the most moist brioche bread surrounded by an onion marmalade.  If you’ve never had Foie Gras then now is your chance to have it.  It’s not for the fainted heart though.

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The fourth dish that was ordered were the Scallops.  It included leek bread pudding, bacon powder, shellfish buerre blanc, and black truffle.  I didn’t taste any kind of truffle on this dish, so maybe they used that name as a selling point?  Truffles can easily be identified because they have such a pungent smell.  The leek bread pudding had a different taste, which I find to be appetizing, but the Scallops were definitely under cooked.  If you’re going to cook Scallops, they deserve a slight crisp to them, but these Scallops taste as though they were poached.  The leek bread pudding was flavorful, and worked well with the bacon powder.  The bacon powder looked like crumbled goat cheese, but imagine my surprise when I bit into it and it tasted salty.

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The fifth dish that was ordered was the Sea Bass.  Again, a fish with a slight fish smell. It’s either they prepared the fish in old grease or the Sea Bass was in the freezer too long.  Either way, I won’t be ordering this dish again.  It did include belgium endive, preserved lemon, and fumet custard.  The endive was the best part of this dish.  It taste similar to leeks but more flavorful.  They were a little tart but the after bite was a bit sweet.  The fish was cooked well, but the slight smell kind of threw me off.  I didn’t return it because it wasn’t too unbearable.

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The last dish that was ordered was the Duck. It consisted of Pistachio Crumble, Spring Peas, and Gnocchi.  This was my favorite dish of the night.  Although I asked for the duck to be prepared medium rare, it looked to be a slightly cooked at a medium temperature.  That’s fine, it’s just something I wanted to point out.  I thought the pistachio would be over whelming but it worked really well.  The peas were amazing. Perfectly cooked, and I thought puree’ing the peas to go with actual peas was genius.  You’re able to smother the gnocchi in the pea puree and devour it along with the duck.  This was a michelin-deserved dish.

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Overall, this restaurant is a pass.  To have such a high-standard, I expected a better outcome.  You can’t win them all.  Lack of seasonings, the fish smell, and no lobster in the bisque were the obvious reasons.  No matter what you say, at a restaurant of this caliber, I should not only enjoy the shells of the lobster that is made with the bisque, I should enjoy the lobster, too.  By the way, there were no items on the menu that included lobster, so what did they do with the meat?  Ship it down stairs?

OVERALL RATING : MAY I SPEAK TO THE CAPTAIN

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