Hines Ward is all about giving a little something back to Pittsburgh.
He and restaurateur Howard Shiller, who launched Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36 on the North Shore, are the co-owners of the new Table 86 and Vines Wine Bar in Seven Fields, which officially opened its doors to the public at noon Wednesday.
The Super Bowl MVP, NBC analyst and “Dancing With the Stars” champion says he opened Table 86 in the area because he wanted "to create jobs here and create a spot where everybody can have a good time, have great food in a great ambiance. It’s my way of saying thank you. I believe in the Black and Gold."
Table 86, which sits in the spot occupied formerly by Siba Cucina, is upscale yet casual, and can accommodate 200 diners. Vines Wine Bar, which is in an adjacent building, seats 86 and has a rustic, Northern California-style wine bar feel to it. It features small plates along with 86 wines, and also serves whiskey, bourbon and vodka.
On Wednesday evening, the red carpet was rolled out for special invitees, and they included former Steelers Mel Blount, Franco Harris, Brett Keisel and Louis Lipps. Guests got to walk around the restaurant and wine bar and sample the fare. They also got to sit at table 86, located in the center of the restaurant, which would be Mr. Ward’s dining area when he comes to town.
Executive chef Scott Croyle says they did not want Table 86 just to be another sports bar, but at the same time wanted it to be a place where sports fans could gather and have a good time. “We wanted to open a restaurant where we could offer wings and burgers, but do it well.”
Mr. Croyle says when he first came up with the menu it had a total of 80 selections, including appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, seafood, steak and chicken, pastas, sides and desserts, and he finally narrowed it down to about 40 to 50 items.
Small salads such as Wedge and Caesar as well as large ones such as Pan Asian Grilled Chicken and Seven Fields are offered daily. The menu also features deep-fried wings, which come with bones or boneless, and grilled wings that are dry-rubbed and then smoked. Mr. Croyle says the 14-ounce pork chop, which is slow roasted for 4 to 5 hours until it falls off the bone, is a meal for a linebacker and not a wide-receiver.
“All the items are made to order and fresh,” he says. “I like to keep it simple and make foods to please my diners. I don’t do something just to satisfy my ego.”
Prices for the signature foods such as Mae Oon Shrimp (tossed with Korean barbecue sauce); MVP burger (topped with pulled pork, cheddar cheese, bacon and Asian slaw); Blackened Ahi Tuna (which has a caramel drizzle and is served with green beans and rice); Korean BBQ Ribs; Crab Mac and Cheese; and Towering Chocolate Malt Cake all end with 86 cents for the obvious reason.
“We made the Korean barbecue sauce 25 times in one day to perfect the recipe.” Mr. Croyle says. “It has a Korean chili base, but is not over-the-top spicy. We are very proud of it.”
Mr. Ward’s favorite items on the menu, according to Mr. Croyle, are the Mae Oon Shrimp and Blackened Ahi Tuna.
Calling himself “a proud Pittsburgher,” Mr. Ward says he is blessed to have a restaurant here, and wanted to give his fans a part of himself that will last for a long time.
Although Mr. Ward lives in Atlanta, he says: "I will always miss Pittsburgh. It has given so much to me. Opening Table 86 is a small token of my appreciation to Pittsburghers."
First Published August 19, 2015 3:57 PM