Friday, April 23, 2010

Restaurant Reiew - Gypsy Cafe

While strolling through Pittsburgh's historic South Side a while back, I came across an interesting little place tucked away at 1330 Bingham Street, but I never got around to going in until just recently. The Gypsy Cafe is, on all accounts is interesting and eclectic. I loved it, but I really think everyone needs to check this place out, for I fear my descriptions won't do it justice.

First impression? This place is very "gypsy-ish" for lack of better word. Lots of deep red, some antique furniture, and the Blessed Mother is, shall we say, well represented. My date (Ross of course) and I went on a Wednesday night, so not much was going on, but on Fridays and Sundays, there is a Tarot card reader! What a great idea, and how fitting for a restaurant dubbed the Gypsy Cafe. Other entertainment features include The Gypsy Strings who play on Thursday evenings, and Jazz, Belly Dancing and Ghost Stories are often on the schedule and the Gypsy Cafe.

I felt like the only thing missing from this place was a crystal ball, and of course, Zelda Rubinstein from the 80's hit movie, Teen Witch. Remember her?

Alas, the fooood. The fare at this place was, hands down, fantastic. Not your average meat and potato or pasta with red sauce kind of place, that's for sure. The menu is full of interesting flavor combinations and geniusly crafted plates of enticing cuisine. Starting with appetizers, we ordered "The Magic Number 3", which allowed you to make your own meze of tantalizing bites. Sea salt roasted pumpkin seeds (I get weak in the knees for all things pumpkin related), spicy-sweet red pepper hummus, and Croation Radish dip. We pretty much knew we were safe with the first two choices, nor were we disappointed in the end. The Croatian radish dip was a bit of a daring selection, but turned out to be the clear winner of the three. Served with vegetable slices and pita bread, the radish dip is described as an unusual combination of crunchy grated radish and rich Swiss cheese. Throw a few of the pumpkin seeds on top, and WOW, talk about a flavor explosion.

The entrees (and appetizers for that matter) derive from a wide variation of Eastern European dishes. I ordered what the Gypsy Cafe deems its signature dish - Szekely Gulyas, "a very old family recipe". This handsome creation is described as a spicy Transylvanian stew of slow-cooked pork in Hungarian hot and sweet paprika sauce with tart sauerkraut and sour cream over egg noodles. After just one bite, it was easy to see why this is the signature dish. It reminded me a lot of a traditional beef stroganoff, with the rich creamy sauce and egg noodles. The melt-in-your-mouth pork was delicious, and the sauerkraut added a perfect little surprise of tart, while the hot and sweet paprika sauce married everything together. If you mouth is watering just reading about it, imagine how good the real thing is.

Ross ordered the Spice-Dusted Rack of Lamb - lamb chops dusted with a blend of toasted aromatic spices, broiled and served with roasted red potatoes tossed in spring pesto. It was fabulous. The lamb was perfectly tender and seasoned with just the right amount of interesting spices. Topped off with fresh herbs and an abundance of feta cheese crumbles, making it extra rich. And the roasted red potatoes with spring pesto... what a great idea! I need to try that one at home.

We were far too stuffed to even look at the desert menu, although I'm sure it's crazy good. I plan to return not only to try something new on the menu, but also to try something on the drink menu. It looked like there was a pretty decent wine selection, but what caught my eye were the specialty cocktails. When I return to the Gypsy Cafe, I plan on ordering the Sapphire Lavender Collins - Bombay Sapphire, lemon juice, lavender simple syrup and soda. How interesting!

In conclusion, The Gypsy Cafe receives two very enthusiastic thumbs up from me. If you've never had food such as this, I recommend that you treat your taste buds to a night of excitement.

Side note:
Speaking of Gypsies - one time when I was in Hollywood and walking down Hollywood Boulevard, I totally bit it - fell flat on my face and scraped my chin on the star of Gypsy Rose Lee. Naturally, I made a dramatic recovery by coming to my feet and singing "Everything's Coming Up Roses" at the top of my lungs for all to hear.
Okay, so the last part of that didn't actually happen, but it would have been funny.

(*If you didn't think that was funny you probably need to watch the movie, because I assure you it was funny. Have I ever let you down?)
Gypsy Cafe on Urbanspoon


SWF_Terra said...

1.) Teen Witch! HAHAHAHA! I wanted to be that red head. And wasn't there a weird choreagraphed prom or formal scene of some sort?
2.) I have been meaing to go to Gypsy Cafe for many, many months now. I'm excited to hear it is so good. It's going on the must-visit list.

TheGirlInTheCorner said...

Been visiting the Gypsy for quite a few years now. Food is amazing! The atmosphere rocks! And, Rebecca the card reader is awesome...I have my cards read from coast to coast, north to south. Hands down, she's the best.

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