Munch goes to the Brillobox

Munch has been spending way too much time reading useless stuff on the Web. Twitter comes to mind. So do all of those really ridiculous articles that Yahoo! links to on relationships, work/life balance and the stock market.

But without those tidbits of information, Munch never would have discovered that Munch has an Office Spouse. An Office Spouse is that person at work with whom you share jokes, stories of your home life and on whom you unload your office problems.

Not to worry, Dear One of Munch (DOOM) knows all about Office Spouse of Munch (OSM) and appreciates the special bond that Munch and OSM share. It means that DOOM doesn't have to hear every bit of minutia of Munch's day.

So, it was with the usual delight in having a lunch out that Munch and OSM set off for the Brillobox on Penn Avenue in Bloomfield. Munch had heard from Editor of Munch that the Brillobox had started to serve lunch and it has been a while since Munch has hung out there.

OSM came down just a notch in Munch's eyes when OSM admitted never having been to the Box. OSM rose again in Munch's eyes with the best description of Brillobox: It's the kind of place you bring friends who are in from New York or Washington when you want to convince them that, yes, Pittsburgh has cool places, too.

Speaking of cool, the management there could have turned on the heat. That was one cold lunch Box.

The place has a great vibe, red leatherette benches for the booths, the limbs of a tree permanently in bloom hang over the bar with models of birds sitting on the branches. An inflatable moose head (that could use a little more air) hangs behind the bar.

The menu was already on the table and we started to peruse it. There were the polenta wedges for $7 that looked good. Polenta is one of those things that Munch has purchased and never cooked. Maybe now that Munch has eaten the polenta at the Brillobox, which was covered with a tomato sauce that had cannellini beans in it and was sprinkled with parmesan cheese, Munch may try it at home. Munch and OSM split it as an appetizer.

Looking through the menu, Munch thought much of the food sounded really good. There was a Moroccan roasted vegetable stew, a baba ghannouj wrap, a zucchini and spiced bean quesadilla, but it wasn't until Munch hit the garden burger on the menu that it clicked in Munch's head that there was no meat on the menu.

No meat? In Pittsburgh? Whoa.

OK, the place wasn't vegan. There was cheese and there were tuna entrees, but the absence of a hamburger and, for that matter, fries meant this was no ordinary bar food.

Munch ordered the portobello panini for $8, which was grilled portobello mushrooms served on foccacia bread with grilled red onions, white cheddar, pickles and a basil pesto spread. The sandwich shared the plate with a salad of mixed lettuce, and though Munch ordered the ginger dressing, it wasn't until OSM asked how the dressing was that Munch realized it was the balsamic vinegarette. Oops. No blood, no foul.

OSM had the tuna salad wrap, which was tuna salad wrapped in a sun-dried tomato tortilla with lettuce and tomato. OSM clearly enjoyed it, eating nearly the entire thing without talking and possibly without pausing long enough to breathe between bites. It was also served with a side salad that had the balsamic vinaigrette dressing that was actually ordered.

We left glad to have ordered appetizers because at the Brillobox not only is there no meat, we also discovered, there was no dessert.


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