Little Bites: Commonplace Coffee teams with East End Brewery; new butcher shop in Bloomfield

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Toast and roast

• Commonplace Coffee House and Roasters owners Julie and TJ Fairchild have teamed up with Scott Smith of East End Brewery to share roasting and production space at 6580 Frankstown Ave., Larimer.

"It seemed to make a lot of sense to join forces with Scott," said Mr. Fairchild, who worked with Mr. Smith on a coffee porter the past two winters called the Eye-Opener. "We realized when we brewed together that we share a lot of customers."

Commonplace Coffee celebrated its debut this past Monday with free cups of pour-over brew for the neighborhood.

Mr. Smith is still transitioning from his Homewood space as he secures the blessing of the state liquor board, which is expected within the next couple of weeks.

Mr. Smith will eventually transfer Tuesday through Saturday growler hours to the new location, during which Commonplace will sell coffee retail and host cupping sessions and tastings.

Commonplace Coffee is shifting its focus to single-origin roasts as opposed to bean blends.

"In Pittsburgh, dark roasts and French roasts have been what sells," said Mr. Fairchild. "We are working to broaden people's tastes."

Mr. Fairchild cites the coveted Yirgacheffe among favorites, the Ethiopian medium bodied coffee with floral and fruit notes.

The Fairchilds test roasting techniques to complement coffees from harvests around the world. "We roast in small batches to see what length and temperature roasting brings out the complexity of beans," he said.

Commonplace Coffee shops are at 5827 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill, and 5467 Penn Ave., Garfield.

The roasting hours open to visitors will be Mondays through Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Meat shop in Bloomfield

• Dennis "DJ" Smulick, a former chef at Cafe Sam, will open a butcher shop at 4623 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield, this month. Prior to his work on the line, Mr. Smulick has been selling sausages at East Liberty Farmers Market on Mondays via DJ's Sausage and Catering.

21st Street Coffee and Tea relocates in the Strip

21st Street Coffee and Tea in the Strip has relocated a few doors away to 2002 Smallman St. Exposed brick walls, minimalist lighting, hardwood floors and chalk-art frame the space. No longer just for takeout, the cavernous digs offer plenty of seating, with the option of outdoor sipping on balmy days that warrant an open breezeway.

More ramen choices

• Japanese ramen soup is making its way through Pittsburgh. Whether it's shoyu, miso, shio or tonkotsu, broths serve as the base for this Japanese comfort food. What makes ramen so satiating are the infinite possibilities, layered with noodles, pork, egg, pickled vegetables, herbs and a thousand other things.

From Pusadee's Garden owner Watcharee Tondgee, Noodlehead will open at 242 S. Highland Ave., Shadyside, this month, offering a range of Asian soups for slurping, including ramen.

Over in Squirrel Hill, the space at 5860 Forbes Ave. is under construction to make way for a restaurant. A ramen bar displayed its sign last week, announcing the new location for the savory soup. The space had been vacant since Lilly's Gourmet Pasta closed.

Drinks and drams

• After a soft opening on Saturday, the cocktail bar Harvard & Highland is ready for patrons. Head to the space upstairs from Union Pig & Chicken at 220 N. Highland Ave., East Liberty, tonight after 5 p.m., Friday after 11 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. for elixirs inspired by Prohibition cocktails and in-season ingredients.

Manned by Summer Voelker, the drink destination conceived by Kevin Sousa of Salt of the Earth will be open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily as of Monday. No food as of yet, though plans are evolving.

Drink and dine events

• As a preview to its 25th anniversary, Ruth's Chris Steak House Downtown will host a five-course St. Supery wine dinner at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24. Napa variations from the vintner will include sauvignon blanc, bordeaux blends and meat-friendly cabernets. On the menu: spinach and pear salad, lobster and chorizo risotto, venison loin with blackberry cabernet sauce, filet mignon and creme brulee. The cost is $120 per person. For reservations, call 412-391-4800.

• You may want to eat less over the next couple of days if you plan on celebrating National Pierogi Day on Monday. Fill up on hearty fare at Braddock's American Brasserie, Downtown, with nontraditional pierogies filled with short rib, barbecue chicken or turkey and stuffing. The recipe for dumplings was handed down to pastry chef Amanda-Kate Kutrufis from her Polish grandmother.

The state marks Oct. 8, 1952, as the first day pierogies were made to sell at a grocery store in Schuylkill County, home to Mrs. T's Pierogies. Pennsylvanians eat more pierogies than residents of any other state in the country.

-- Compiled by dining critic Melissa McCart

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