Munch goes to Table Brick Oven Bar & Grill

Rhetorical question of the morning: What is it about the suburbs that inspires utter disdain in those of us that come from them?

You had parents thoughtful enough to make sure you lived in a safe place, with quality schools, a Boston Market chicken in every pot and a Cherokee in every garage. So why the hate?

Hypocritical Munch, a born suburbanite, is guilty of the same trappings.

Munch is such a lazy city slicker that even if they were giving away Krugerrands in Dormont, Bilbo Baghead would stay put. Thus: Munch has, for more than a year, blithely ignored the incessant pleas of several friends and one cousin in particular to visit Table Brick Oven Bar (Lakeside) in Peters (there is a second location in Murrysville). Too far out. Probably in a strip mall. Maybe even a chain.

Wrong, wrong and wrong. The place is terrific. Munch and the very embodiment of the 'burbs, Big Shot Lawyer Friend of Munch (BSLFOM), checked out the place, which is tucked on a scenic hillside off Route 19, just above Canonsburg Lake.

The menu is vast and enticing, featuring numerous well-prepared staples, with a nice hint of flair. Meat and seafood are well represented -- strip steak, filet, porterhouse, crab cakes, grouper, yellowfin ($16.50-$28) -- as well pastas -- primavera, penne, cappellini, house-made ravioli ($14.50-$22) -- and a half-dozen flatbreads from the brick oven (all $9). Table goes local when possible, using Parma sausage from the Strip in several entrees including the New Orleans Paella ($22) and stuffed hot peppers ($9).

We started with the Gorg 'n' Crab Polenta ($9). Ample lumps of savory crabmeat were warmed in a sharp gorgonzola sauce atop the lightly spongy, slightly sweet polenta triangles, which gave an excellent mix of different flavors.

Going the seasonal comfort food route, BSLFOM had the Grilled Meatloaf (Strong3.50) -- a mix of seasoned ground beef and ground pork, rolled and baked, then finished on the grill. Its presentation was unlike any we'd seen before. It looked like two perfectly cut pieces of steak, and had a side of garlic mashed potatoes and gravy. BSLFOM thought it excellent -- just spicy enough and with a hearty portion. BSLFOM was slightly less impressed with his "pedestrian" chopped salad ($5.50).

Munch had nothing but high marks for the Santa Fe Shrimp 'n' Grits ($19). Sauteed shrimp, onions, roasted red peppers, corn and black beans were mixed with a light and spicy broth, and served over cheesy grits. This was a well-prepared dish full of great flavors, all of which -- the shrimp, the spices, the cheese -- were able to stand out.

The service was very good and, on a crisp, fall evening, the atmosphere was enhanced by the glow of the wood-burning fireplace. The interior is sleek, yet comfortable, and the curved granite bar was a good spot to take in the scene of well-heeled suburbanites enjoying a night out.

BSLFOM correctly notes there is something special about dining on the waterfront, and found the place was evocative of Lake Tahoe. That is if Lake Tahoe were the size of a puddle with a Giant Eagle staring back at you, but, nonetheless, he has a point.


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