Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Restaurant Reviews: NOLA on the Square

Trying to figure out a place to meet someone on a first date is sometimes tricky for a Pittsburgher on a chilly spring evening.  Do you play it safe and go somewhere everyone has been? Or try one of the newer trendier spots that have been sprouting up throughout revitalized Pittsburgh neighborhoods?  Well, I chose the latter and suggested NOLA on the Square located in Market Square.  Market Square has undergone some major work over the last couple of years and this work has led to the transformation of the square into a European style piazza.  The $5.1 million renovation project that was completed in the fall of 2010 consists of new restaurants mixed with classics like Primanti’s and the Oyster House, facelifts to existing buildings, and the rerouting of vehicle traffic to promote outdoor seating and social gatherings.  NOLA is just one of the many recent additions to the historic square.
NOLA on the Square is a New Orleans themed restaurant that opened during the summer of 2011.  Features of the restaurant include outdoor patio seating, spacious bar area, and quieter dining room.  My date and I decided to go for drinks and chose the bar area to converse.  The bar was very lively, a jazz band was playing and Downtown Pittsburgh was surprisingly crowded on a Wednesday evening.  The drink menu was very diverse.  Bourbon St inspired cocktails made for an interesting and fun activity.  My date went with a Hurricane to start then went with the Bourbon Street Blues.  The bar service was exceptional, upon noticing her dislike for the strong flavor of bourbon the manager took it back and removed it from our bill.  I on the other hand selected beer from their large selection of draft and bottled beers.  We did not order meals, but we did notice Crispy Fried Alligator listed on NOLA’s appetizer menu.  Upon seeing this we immediately decided to order a plate.   The appetizer of alligator was very good with a different taste and texture that was foreign to me; it did not just “taste like chicken.”  The taste is difficult to describe; it was a bit chewy and sauce made it a little spicy.  Louisiana style entrees make up the remainder of the menu and curiosity in this cuisine is making me want to go back for a full meal. (For reviews of food click here)  NOLA is a bit on the pricey side but is on par with other trendy restaurants located in the Cultural District and Market Square.

Crispy Fried Alligator
NOLA on the Square is a nice compliment to the new-look Market Square and is a place I’d be willing to try again sometime.  I really enjoyed the atmosphere and design of the restaurant.   It was also nice to see a bustling Market Square on a weeknight.  Is the image of Downtown Pittsburgh as a ghost town after 6pm now a memory?  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves but additions like NOLA are a good start to resuscitate downtown nightlife.
Cheers! Hurricane, pickle and all

1 comment:

  1. Pills said...

    That is surprising that there was activity downtown. Rebirth of the 'burgh.