The best way to draw Munch to the 'burbs is to promise beers and burgers.
So when Brewstone opened in Penn Center in Wilkins last month, Munch was intrigued. It marketed itself as a "restaurant and taproom" -- the perfect place for Munch and Dear One of Munch to meet Skinny Dad of Munch and Step-Mom of Munch for dinner.
Munch and DOOM arrived early one Sunday evening to find SDOM and SMOM already settled at the bar. It took Munch a second to spot them, though, because Munch was totally overwhelmed by the televisions. Large TVs loomed above the bar, medium-size ones lined other walls, and tiny ones adorned booths lining the walls.
Look, Munch isn't going to get all uppity on you and say that there shouldn't be televisions in family restaurants or anything like that. Munch likes TV as much as the next person, and it's especially important to have access to television at all times given the recent success of the Pirates. (Let's go Bucs! Let's go Bucs!)
But Munch digresses. The decor of Brewstone is lovely -- neutral tile, warm wood, low lighting. But the number of televisions is, frankly, absurd. There are televisions in the bathrooms. The bathrooms. (Here Munch will note SDOM's disagreement -- as soon as we sat down at our booth, he flipped the channel to a golf match. SMOM rolled her eyes.)
Anyway. We were in no rush -- we sat down, ordered drinks and looked over the menu. DOOM ordered a pale ale from the Greensburg-based All Saints Brewing Co., but when it arrived, DOOM, a totally obnoxious beer snob, noted it looked, smelled and tasted like Magic Hat No. 9.
DOOM alerted the waitress that the taps for the Magic Hat and All Saints beers might be switched and asked her to pour a beer from the Magic Hat tap. She brought it, and that one was more pale-aley. The bartender checked the taps and confirmed DOOM's suspicion.
"I nailed it. Those two were switched," DOOM gloated. "DOOM, the snob, for the win."
By this point in the evening, the restaurant started to fill up just as a serious storm began to brew outside. The storm kicked out the television connection, and all of the televisions in Brewstone went black, a DirecTV logo bouncing on the screens.
We ordered appetizers to share -- the seared ahi tuna ($14) was good, if a bit overcooked and unexciting, and Munch and SMOM agreed that the crunchy cabbage salad under the tuna was the tastiest part. The "angry shrimp" ($11) were served on a bed of noodles and carrots and doused in a spicy sauce. Munch and SDOM heartily approved of the truly spicy shrimp and noodles, but SMOM and DOOM said it was all heat and no flavor.
SDOM and DOOM ordered pizzas -- DOOM the margherita ($10) and SDOM the buffalo chicken ($12). The pizzas both got a thumbs up, with SDOM comparing the crust to that of a Vinnie pie, which is high praise given that Vincent's Pizza Park, the landmark Forest Hills pizzeria, closed earlier this summer.
SMOM said her black and bleu burger ($10) was a bit overcooked for her taste but was still moist. Munch's chicken tacos ($10) were underspiced and unremarkable, but Munch snacked on bits of pizza to round out the meal.
We agreed when the meal was over that Brewstone has some growing to do, but we'd be back for pizzas, beers and, yes, television.
Especially when the Pirates make the playoffs.