It's been almost 10 years since Munch reviewed the Sharp Edge.
In that time, Munch thinks both have improved with age. Munch is wiser, funnier and, impossibly, even better looking. Sharp Edge has expanded from its once-divey Friendship location into a mini Belgian beer empire, with five locations in the Pittsburgh area.
For those unfamiliar with Sharp Edge, the theme is beer -- lots and lots of beer. The focus is Belgium, but the bottle list represents much of Europe, with a few exotic brews from places such as New Zealand, Brazil and Sri Lanka.
Its newest location, formally called Bistro 922 Penn, opened Downtown in June, with a beautifully decorated space and a stepped-up menu.
Munch spent many an evening in Munch's youth at the Sharp Edge Friendship location. But other than a late-night half-price appetizer, Munch found the food both unremarkable and overpriced.
So when Munch heard that Sharp Edge had revamped its menu for the "bistro" theme at its Downtown location, Munch was intrigued.
And so were Munch's friends. It seems beer and lunch are the magic words to get a last-minute posse together for a rainy-day dining expedition.
Veteran Beer Drinking Friend of Munch had already visited the Sharp Edge Downtown on several occasions and reported it absolutely packed at happy hour. The 1 p.m. lunch crowd was sparse, but all the better for Munch to admire the layout of the place.
Party of Munch packed into a booth that overlooked the bar -- a booth with a view, so to speak.
VBDFOM suggested ordering the brie en croute appetizer (baked brie with apples, almonds and honey, $9), and who was Munch to object? The menu is large, mixing traditional Belgian dishes such as mussels and frites with American bar food, such as pizzas and burgers.
VBDFOM and Dear One of Munch couldn't resist ordering the "mystery beer" -- a $4 beer that changes weekly (and isn't revealed until the week after). This one was simply delicious -- smooth with an underlying coffee taste.
Munch's dried cherry almond chicken salad panini ($11) was fantastic -- creamy but not too creamy, sweet but not too sweet. VBDFOM's salmon burger ($15) was amazing -- incredibly moist and deep with flavor. DOOM, who seemingly lives to complain about restaurant burgers, was both satiated and entirely satisfied by the Belgian burger ($13) with ground lamb and sirloin. And Soon to be Former Journalist Friend of Munch inhaled his chicken avocado club, pronouncing it just perfect.
So what was the problem? Well, did you see those prices? A $15 burger? Soup for $8? (Thai curried lobster chowder, also delicious). Frites for $7?
In Munch's humble opinion, it's still just way too expensive.
For comparison's sake, let's look a few doors down Penn Avenue at Nine on Nine, which received four stars from the PG's inimitable China Millman. Its pomme frites? $5. Its most expensive burger, which also comes with frites? $14.
At Bistro 922 Penn, the party of Munch ordered two $4 beers, four sandwiches, one appetizer, one side salad and one side soup. The bill, with tip, was just over $100.
It's a nice location, a nice menu and a nice addition to Downtown, but it's also a nice chunk of change.