Little Bites: Downtown restaurants compete during gymnastics meet; garden party at Brew Gentlemen

For the first time ever, the P&G Gymnastics Championships are being held in Pittsburgh today through Sunday, but the competition is not limited to the gym. There’s a competitive food element as well.

“Steel City’s Taste of the Championships” will pit five Downtown restaurants against each other in an attempt to capture the top prize for a gymnastics-themed entree.

The participating restaurants are Capital Grille, 301 Fifth Ave.; Meat and Potatoes, 649 Penn Ave.; Nine on Nine, 900 Penn Ave.; NOLA, 24 Market Square; and The Carlton, 500 Grant St. Two restaurants have thus far announced their dishes: Seared Ahi Tuna with King Crab Stuffing with Gingered Rice at Capital Grille, and Vegetable Bean Paella with Toasted Almond Farro and Chicken Braciole at The Carlton.

For the four days of the competition, the restaurants will feature these dishes in their dining rooms so anyone can try them.

Celebrity gymnast judges – their identities are still under wraps, with the exception of one, 1996 Olympian John Macready – will visit each restaurant to taste the dishes. They’ll be at Capital Grille at 11:30 and The Carlton at noon today; at Nine on Nine at 11 a.m. Friday; and at Meat & Potatoes at 11 a.m. and NOLA at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

The winning restaurant will be announced during a live awards presentation on Sunday at the gymnastics competition. Entrees will be judged on creativity, presentation, taste and nutritional value. Highmark, local sponsor of the gymnastics championships, is providing a nutritionist to make sure the dishes are healthy by assessing the ingredients in advance.

Those attending or performing in the gymnastics shows this week will also be able to get 5- to 15-percent discounts by presenting their tickets at several participating restaurants through Sunday. Thus far, the list of restaurants is:

• Blue Line Grille

• Ben and Jerry’s

• Bravo Franco

• Hanlon’s Cafe

• Monte Cello Italian Restaurant

• Redbeard’s

• Penn Station East Coast Subs

• Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

• Sonoma Grille

• TGI Fridays

More restaurants may be added. A list of the participating restaurants is to be available at

Tickets to the gymnastics events are available through Ticketmaster or at the CONSOL Energy Center box office.


Garden beer party on tap

From 4 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 30, Braddock’s The Brew Gentlemen Beer Co. is hosting a free Garden Party, where you can sample and buy beer as well as food from PGH Taco Truck, Superior Motors, Braddock Farms, Bar Marco, Burgh Bites Cart, The Pittsburgh Urban Gardening Project, Gyros N’@ and Ink Division. Other fun includes music and “vegetable-related festivities.” The brewery, at 512 Braddock Ave., will be releasing its first seasonal brew, a cucumber wheat beer called Garden Party. Find full details on Facebook.

Iconic foods at Notion

Chef Dave Racicot of Notion is at it again with his imaginative, push-the-envelope food artistry.

On Sept. 17 through Sept. 20, he’ll offer a special six-course tasting menu at his East Liberty restaurant that aims to redefine — while also paying homage to — more than a half-dozen iconic Pittsburgh foods.

Consider it his version of the TV cooking competition “Chopped,” only at a more relaxed pace and with more choices on your plate, n’at.

The $85 meal ($121 with wine pairings) will include Chef Racicot’s modernist spin on such quintessential ‘Burgh dishes as cabbage rolls, kielbasa, Pittsburgh salad (topped with french fries), haluski, pierogies and chip-chopped ham. For dessert, there’ll be something sweet involving Clark bars and Klondikes, created by the Isaly Dairy Co. in the 1920s and enjoyed by kids both large and small ever since.

“Notion is redefining beloved local dishes ... to show guests that high-end food doesn’t have to be unfamiliar,” according to a release. “Expect dishes that creatively combine old- and new-world traditions with modernist techniques and imaginative plating.”

Reservations are recommended, and can be made by calling the restaurant at 412-361-1199 or emailing


Winery hosts Frontier dinner

The National Road Heritage Corridor is holding its ninth annual Frontier Dinner on Sept. 5, at Christian Klay Winery in Chalk Hill. There’s a five-course dinner with beer, wine and soft drinks stretching to the bonfire, complete with marshmallows. Tickets are $70; call 724-437-9877 or email


Twelves Oaks opening next month

Sept. 6 is to be opening day for Twelve Oaks Restaurant & Tavern set in the historic Thompson House in Brownsville, Fayette County. The 21-room manse, built in 1906 and also known as Wayside Manor, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and previously housed the Thompson House Restaurant & Tavern.

The new name comes from a plantation in “Gone With the Wind,” and references to the movie can be found on the menu, which is described as “fresh Southern cuisine with a modern flair.” Diners can eat in the main restaurant or its “Carpetbagger’s Tavern.” There’s also a private dining room, banquet room and tea room.

Overseeing the food and drink is executive chef Gregory Hager, a Cleveland native who trained in the Pacific Northwest.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Sunday brunch. To learn more, visit or call 724-785-3200.


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