Munch goes to Easy Street
Share with others:
Easy Street, on the bottom floor of Oxford Centre, opened on Cinco de Mayo of this year. It's a date that might be considered auspicious, if Easy Street were the Mexican Army in the state of Puebla battling the French Army in 1862.
Alas, Easy Street is not the Mexican Army, but it is a bar-restaurant that in a lot of ways defies a particular genre. Its menu features a silhouette of palm trees, so Munch was thinking (and secretly hoping) the dining room would look like as if it were decorated by Jimmy Buffett, and perhaps, there would be a shark tank and sand on the floor. No such luck, but the space manages to feel warm and a little festive (think glass block accents and some pink and purple fluorescent lighting) without feeling too tacky. It's billed itself as a versatile venue that's amenable to a business lunch, to a bachelor or bachelorette party (but not Munch's, no room for an inflatable jump house) or as an appropriate spot to get inappropriately drunk in front of your co-workers (five-night-a-week happy hour specials).
The menu, too, defies definition, a melange of Pittsburgh bar standards like chicken wings and loaded fries, seafood classics like steamed mussels and fried calamari, and vaguely Mexican dishes, like quesadillas and the Asian-inspired Yellow Fin Tuna Tacos, which come with a side of Thai noodles.
So on a particularly warm fall afternoon, Munch and Blagojevich Apologist Friend of Munch (BAFOM), a major fan of the deposed Illinois state governor, marched down the Boulevard of the Allies to meet Tall, Redheaded Friend of Munch (TRFOM) at Oxford Centre.
Munch, as Readers of Munch probably know, is not an incredible planner and forgot that BAFOM is allergic to seafood (and logic) and TRFOM is lactose-intolerant. So that whittled the appetizer choices down to the Housemade Hummus ($7), which on this day came blended with roasted vegetables and was accompanied by an impressive stack of pitas. TRFOM enthusiastically devoured the hummus, while Munch and BAFOM dug into the BBQ Ranch Chicken Dip ($9), a warm, positively delicious and totally unrestrained mixture of soft cheese, ranch dressing, herbs and chunked chicken, topped with more cheese and tangy barbecue sauce.
Then came the entrees. Munch was overjoyed to find a sandwich on the menu with one of Munch's favorite, heart-attack-inducing cuts of meat: pork belly. But then Munch learned it no longer was being served. So Munch opted for the Yellow Fin Tuna Tacos ($10). The tacos came in a regular coarse corn taco shell stuffed with a filling made of chopped, lightly seared tuna, which meant most of the pieces came out raw, mixed with spicy, wasabi-spiked mayo and scallions. Munch found the strange combination of textures -- the coarse taco shell with the soft fish filling -- a little unpleasant, but overall thought the tacos were a standout effort.
TRFOM ordered the Smoked Salmon Salad ($11), mixed greens topped with cold-smoked Atlantic salmon, capers, onions and a creamy horseradish dressing. TRFOM tediously picked around the capers, but Munch enjoyed the combination of the sharp saltiness of the salmon and the capers with the creaminess of the dressing.
BAFOM mowed down the Cajun Chicken Wrap ($8), a tortilla packed with french fries and nicely spiced chicken pieces, saying that it was just "OK." Indeed, the fries were a tad greasy ("much like the media-types that skewered my hero," complained BAFOM) and the chicken a little overcooked ("like those federal indictments," he muttered).
Munch tromped back down the Boulevard o' the Allies and back to the PG office a little disappointed but mostly satiated. Since their slogan is "Eat Well. Drink Better," Munch'll probably be back on Tuesday, because with Munch's salary and level of financial anxiety, who can resist a $4 margarita?
First Published October 29, 2009 12:00 am