In a city where the local football franchise rates on par with the sacrosanct trinity of God, family and country, and where the professional baseball club -- yes, they are paid professionals, despite voluminous evidence to the contrary -- has spent the better part of two decades several dozen latitudes south of equatorial (.500) play, one might question the conventional wisdom of naming an establishment after the creator of the latter sport.
That wisdom, however, goes out the window when you do something really well -- in this case, making hamburgers.
Doubleday's, so named for Abner Doubleday, the father of baseball, does just that.
And while ol' Abner, were he still upright might apologize for the bastardized incarnation of his grand game that has been played for the past 16 years on the North Side, Doubleday's needn't do the same for its food.
The menu at each of its locations, Downtown and SouthSide Works, is sparse -- burgers, dogs, salads and some pub grub is about it -- but quite good. Nothing is more than $10.
Munch and Roommate of Munch (ROM) stopped in on Monday to grab a bite and take in the start of the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay. (Apparently, Brett Favre plays for the Jets now. Perhaps you've heard.)
Munch enjoyed "The Prime Experience" ($9.95), a perfectly grilled 6-ounce ribeye on a bun with hot peppers, sauteed mushrooms and grilled onions with a side of tasty fries. The steak was so tender it practically fell apart like the Pirates' bullpen on any given night.
ROM reported that his Double Play Cheeseburger ($5.99) tasted like it was straight off a backyard cookout grill, which is the best kind, as far as he's concerned. That it was of behemoth proportions didn't hurt either. The burger bulged like Barry Bonds' Balco enhanced forehead -- we estimated it may have approached a full pound of ground beef.
Further proof that deep-frying anything will produce pleasing results, our side order of Breaded Spicy Pub Pickles ($4.99) were delicious.
Some quibbles: the bourbon flavored wings ($6.49 for 10) were dry and not very good. And more importantly, for a hop head of Munch's caliber, the beer selection had as much pop as Adam LaRoche's bat in April, or his brother Andy's in August. Which is to say none. Blue Moon, Guinness, Bud Light ... Zzzzzzzzzzz. Munch and ROM settled for a very pedestrian Sam Adams Summer Ale, for which we can say at least it was cheap ($3).
Framed posters of Pittsburgh sports icons -- diamond, gridiron and ice-based -- adorn the walls at each Doubleday's.
The Downtown location just across the Clemente Bridge from PNC Park, is a welcome alternative the majority of existing North Shore pre- and post-game destinations, which are overpriced, glorified frat parties where music like that Sean Kingston diddy will play with relentless irritation at top volume until it, in fact, has you "suicidal, suicidal."
Likewise, finding a niche in the hip-deep ocean of beer joints on the South Side is a chore to be certain. Doubleday's however, is simply a no-pretense little bar. Clean and quiet, not teeming with hipsters, meatheads or glammed-out girls, it's a place to enjoy a cheap beer and a decent bite, watch a game and have an actual, non-shouting conversation.
What a concept. Like a winning baseball team.