Munch goes to Andys
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"The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell."
-- Andrew Carnegie
"But I always say, one's company, two's a crowd, and three's a party."
-- Andy Warhol
"So, are you, uh, supposed to eat this part?"
Reflective of their relative experience and wit, the first two quotes, from two of Pittsburgh's most influential and successful sons, are emblazoned on the colorful coasters of the sleek, chic new little hotel bar bearing their common nickname.
Reflective of a true lack of class and seasoning, Munch's query, asked in reference to some of the fine artisan cheeses served at Andys at the Fairmont Hotel, will not be emblazoned on said coasters anytime soon.
But that's OK. Munch was just happy to be in the joint. Regular readers know Munch as an ink-stained, beer-soaked, wing-sauce-slathered wretch. But Munch cleans up well and can fake it like Frank Abagnale on occasion. And after reading China Millman's review of the Fairmont's restaurant, Habitat, Munch had to get there. Problem is, Munch lacks Ms. Millman's general talent, poise and, oh yeah -- massive expense account. Not to be bitter.
But lo, the slightly less expensive option in the Fairmont is Andys, located in the lobby. Not big enough to be a lounge, but intimate enough that it lacks the sheer desperation of most hotel bars, Andys is a fine place to get a tiny taste of the Fairmont's posh potential.
The menu is small but decadent; fine cheeses ($5 a piece) and chocolate truffles ($3 a piece), handmade in house by the pastry chef, Naomi Gallego, comprise the majority of it.
The best option is a flight ($22), which pairs three wines with three cheeses or chocolates. We had one of each. This proved a decent value, owing to the generous pours of our barkeep. The rich red wines went nicely with the soft cheeses, although, as mentioned, Munch betrayed total ignorance by asking about the edibility of the rinds. (Answer: sometimes, if they're natural.) Regular column sidekick Blonde Barkeep Bud of Munch said she felt like a modern Betty Draper with her sparkling white wines and delicious chocolate confections.
There are only two other items on the bar menu, and again, we split them both. Black angus sliders ($12) with a horseradish cream and smoked onion jam were tasty, but a double-digit price for three sliders is pushing it. A plate of three delicious soft Tandoor chicken tacos ($9) with a spicy vegetable slaw and cucumber raita was more reasonable. In homage to Andy Warhol, the bar tabs come in soup cans.
One of the most interesting features of the hotel are the artifacts on display uncovered during construction. According to the hotel website: "Thousands of artifacts, buried for more than 150 years, were discovered during the site excavation ... Gold gilded vases, children's shoes, a harmonica, hand-painted china dolls, and porcelain lithophanes were among the objects recovered from under 20 feet of concrete, steel, brick and stone." A cool thing to check out over a cocktail, of which Andys' list is extensive and gourmet.
Andys' theme, "where art meets industry," nods to Warhol and Carnegie and offers a glimpse of Pittsburgh's grand past all while being housed in its newest and most modern building. This is a juxtaposition both men would appreciate.
First Published June 24, 2010 12:00 am