Dinner at Habitat.

Over the weekend, we ate dinner at Habitat which is located in the Fairmont Pittsburgh.

This was to kick off Mr. How Sweet’s birthday celebration, and it couldn’t have gone any better. Habitat’s menu is full of enticing dishes made of fresh, organic and local ingredients… and the entire thing just immediately made my mouth water.

Plus, we were seated right near the kitchen, which is bright and open and looks like this.

Love. I wanted to jump in there.

In full disclosure, our meal was on the house. But I would have told you about it anyway because, well… do I talk about anything else besides what we eat? Not really.

Once we got there and perused the menu (which, let’s be honest, I had nearly memorized online beforehand because I was so excited), we decided on filets and a few appetizers. But soon after, the sous chef, Luis, came out and asked how hungry we were (uh… very. always.) and said he’d love to surprise us. We had no idea what was in store but I was giddy with anticipation. Seriously. I would not shut up.

The first course we had was a basket of freshly baked naan with three different chutneys. There was also a jar of homemade peach pineapple jam that we got to take home with us. Thank goodness, because I can’t even tell you how many times my husband double-dipped.

This was perfect and nearly impossible to stop eating. We really wanted to only eat a bit as we figured we’d want to enjoy what was to come, but that flew out the window with the first bite. We finished the entire thing.

 

Next up we had a cream of cauliflower soup.

Would you believe me if I tell you that out of all the delicious food we had that night, we both agreed that this was our favorite course? It definitely was. It is not something I would have ever ordered in a restaurant but consider me cauliflower converted. The soup was – dare I say it – actually very light. But the best part by far was the garnish of toasted capers and crispy cauliflower. I am dying for a bowl of this right now.

 

Then: beets.

Ah… yes. Scary, scary beets. I was very skeeeered, let me tell you. I’m sure it does not surprise you that I have never tasted a beet, besides in fresh mixed juice, and definitely had no intentions of doing so. This salad was full of fresh beets, local honey, coriander and a huge dollop of goat cheese. I am talking huge – like maybe more than 1/4 cup? And guess what? I actually liked the beets. I cannot believe it. I will never be that person who tells you that vegetables taste like something they don’t, but the only way I can describe this is to compare them to candy. I loved, loved, loved them. The reminded me of peaches? Or berries? Or something. I was so happy I tried this and went outside of my vegetable comfort zone.

 

At this point I was getting extremely full… and I had no idea what was coming next.

This is a tempura squash blossom filled with swiss chard and bacon sitting in a tiny pool of tomato gazpacho. Yes, more vegetables that I’ve been wary of but I think we all know I’ll eat anything with bacon. I want to say that this was my second favorite course, but I can hardly choose. I just know I want to sleep on a squash blossom pillow tonight.

 

Okay… you’re not even going to believe me here. I really don’t even know how to describe this. It will go down in history as one of the most memorable dishes I have ever tasted.

Three different cuts of bacon (which Luis brought out to show us… man I love him) + two or three different kinds of local mushrooms + bacon fat breadcrumbs + a little pile of mashed potatoes (totally melted on my tongue)+ a bit of a green apple (I think) garnish. What the what? I know. My exact thoughts. I’m sure you know that I can’t even begin to describe it… and between each bite the only thing flying out of our mouths was a slew of (happily positive) expletives.

At this point I was ready to take Luis home with me.

Didn’t think I could eat another bite, but out came this salmon with the most incredible crispy sear, right next to a stack of braised cabbage and mashed potato puree. Ate every bite and thought that maybe we were done…

…but then our waitress sat a very distinct serrated knife down next to each of us, and I took one look at my husband and said, “I think this means steak.” I didn’t know whether to cheer or cry because how on Earth was I going to stick one more forkful in my mouth? Not a problem though once we saw the grass-fed ribeye, potato gratin and caramelized cippolini onion. So, so unreal.

 

I didn’t think that I could manage another bite (I’ve said this what? Three or four times now? That’s how I felt all night. SOMEONE GIVE ME A THESAURUS!), but we decided there would be no passing up dessert and thank goodness we didn’t.

He had this vanilla orange panna cotta with balsamic strawberries and a strawberry crumble.

And I… had this milk chocolate s’mores cheesecake. Uh huh.

You probably know my deep adoration for all things s’mores related, so I was in high heaven.

No words.

 

Surely you’ve picked up on this by now, but we absolutely loved Habitat. I think our experience was even more enjoyable than we imagined because we had such a great time talking with Luis. His passion for food was indescribable and to say he actually made the night for us is no exaggeration. I’m already planning on heading back next week before a showing of Wicked and I can hardly wait! If you are in the Pittsburgh area, you must must must give it a try. Tell them the weird girl who took pictures with her iPhone all night and drank too much wine sent you.

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81 Responses to “Dinner at Habitat.”

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    Claire @ Live and Love to Eat — September 19, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

    I’ve been to Habitat and absolutely loved it! I’d love to go back but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Although it looks like you had some amazing meats, I found them to be pretty vegetarian friendly too.

    Reply

    • Jessica — September 19th, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

      So glad you liked it too! I agree – lots of veg options.

      Reply

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    Emily @ A Cambridge Story — September 19, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

    Not bad for iphone pics!! this looks like a lovely bday dinner!

    Reply

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    Kristen@PrettySweet — September 19, 2011 @ 6:10 pm

    O.K., my husband and I are going to Pittsburgh next month for a conference and I’ve just decided we must MUST check this out while we’re there!! Woo hoo!!! We love trying new restaurants.

    Reply

    • Jessica — September 19th, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

      You must!! So good.

      Reply

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    Leah @ Why Deprive? — September 19, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

    Wow. All of that sounds beyond amazing. I love, love, love when you can go to a restaurant and the chef just surprises you with different courses. Its so much more fun that way.

    Reply

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    Rodzilla — September 19, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

    Wow, a complimentary tasting on the house…not a bad way to celebrate! Habitat has been on my list to try for sometime, especially after they revamped the menu last year. I love when the staff is enthusiastic about the menu, it really makes all the difference to me. Please cover more of your meals around the area!

    Reply

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    Ida — September 19, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

    A good friend of mine just moved to Pitt, now I know where we’ll eat when I go visit her. I love cauliflower soup! please tell me you will recreate this for the blog so I can make some myself.

    Reply

    • Jessica — September 19th, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

      I want to so badly, but I fear that it could be no where near as good as it was at Habitat and I don’t want to make a mess of it. Ah – decisions!

      Reply

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    Jen of My Tiny Oven — September 19, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

    That meal looks amazing! I saw Wicked a couple of months ago! It was beyond words, hope you love it as much as I did. Still can’t stop singing the songs!

    Reply

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    Christina @ This Woman Cooks! — September 19, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

    That smore’s cheesecake. OMG!

    Reply

    • Miranda — September 19th, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

      I completely agree! Absolutely up my alley! Time to design a cupcake around this and please use a blow torch. This is on my secret Christmas present list, the blow torch, for cooking. :)

      Reply

    • Sonnet Gal — September 20th, 2011 @ 7:08 am

      So need an easy recipe for S’mores Cheesecake….actually makes me what to make a microwave s’more for breakfast, and it also makes me giggle because my 4-year-old calls them “snores!”

      Must.Go.To.Habitat…

      Reply

      • Jessica — September 20th, 2011 @ 7:08 am

        Snores! LOL!

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    Kristen — September 19, 2011 @ 6:54 pm

    OMG that all looks amazing, wish I lived close. My son wants to is it the Pirates stadium, umm Now I might go just to eat here. love your blog, making your general tso chicken tonight !!!

    Reply

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    Amanda — September 19, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

    Drooled over each and every picture. That potato gratin! How come mine near turn out like that? I die.

    Reply

    • Jessica — September 19th, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

      Come visit and we will go there together! :)

      Reply

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    Mimi — September 19, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

    I am astounded (!) at the sheer volume of veggies that you consumed and have to say that a roasted cauliflower soup I had at another Pittsburgh hotel restaurant totally blew me away last year (Bigelow Grille). Enjoy Wicked!

    Reply

    • Jessica — September 19th, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

      I know! Lots of veggies for me.

      Reply

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    Amy — September 19, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

    Wow. Amazing. YUM!!! So glad you had such a great, fun experience!!

    Reply

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    Victoria V — September 19, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

    That cheesecake looks amazing (as does the rest of the meal)! And Wicked is awesome. I love that musical. One of my favs. :)

    Reply

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    Kacey — September 19, 2011 @ 7:11 pm

    That smore’s cheesecake just might make the trip down route 28 worth it! Everything looks yummy!

    Reply

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    Katrina — September 19, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

    Whoa. That place is seriously awesome. What is with that dessert?!

    Reply

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    krissy — September 19, 2011 @ 7:38 pm

    Wow! I am in Vancouver, BC (which has a ton of wonderful restaurants) but your dinner looks amazing! I LOVE cauliflower soup!

    Reply

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    Joanna @ things after the rings — September 19, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

    my mouth is watering like crazy after reading this post. isn’t it amazing how some people can make food into such art?

    great pictures too!

    Reply

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    Becki's Whole Life — September 19, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

    I hate it when people post restaurant reviews like this and I lie so far away:-)….everything sounds amazing, but I have to say, that bacon plate looks ridonkulously wonderul! Glad you had a great night for hubby’s birthday celebration.

    Reply

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    Corey @ Learning Patience — September 19, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

    Wow – this meal looks amazing! Just jotted it down in my travel book – looks really nice! :-)

    xoxo from Trinidad

    Reply

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    Ashley — September 19, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

    How bout I go all Full House on you here and say, HAVE MERCY.

    Reply

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    Melissa — September 19, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

    SA-weet Jesus! I knew Pittsburgh had amazing restaurants, but I’ve never been to Habitat. It looks worthy of planning a special trip there just for that! Wow.

    Reply

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    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga — September 19, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

    hocolate s’mores cheesecake – when I saw that on IG, I was like…whoa. Top Chef Just Desserts is in the bldg :)

    Beets ARE like nature’s candy. And roasted they are even better b/c they caramelize and get even sweeter. Glad you’re on board with them.

    And with cauli soup.

    And with squash blossoms. I just bought some from the market. Love them!

    FABULOUS post!!

    Reply

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    Jess-The SemiAbnormal Gal — September 19, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

    oh wow. What an amazing meal. I’m beyond jealous! This makes me wish I lived close to Pburgh. (ummm, I live in Florida). A lot closer.

    PS. I’m doing a post tonight on my blog featuring my take on your take on the Corn Chowder with BBQ Shrimp and Bacon! Come check it out later, please! :)

    Reply

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    Cait's Plate — September 19, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

    YUM. That is all :)

    Reply

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    Jessica L. — September 19, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

    yum. all of this looks to.die.for. it makes me sad that indiana is quite far from pittsburgh.

    Reply

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    Stephanie — September 19, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

    Umm? I’m not feeling too friendly toward you right now. You know why?

    Because I am now starving and have absolutely NOTHING at home that is going to come close to fufilling the intense cravings I am now having!!! Nor am I anywhere near Pittsburgh. I wonder if my husband would be up to an across the border, 23 hour road trip after I get home from work?

    Looks fabulous, hope your husband had a wonderful birthday :)

    Reply

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    Gina @ Running to the Kitchen — September 19, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

    I’m totally wishing Pittsburgh was still my region for work but sadly it isn’t anymore! This meal looks seriously amazing.

    Reply

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    Liv B — September 19, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

    Wow! What a meal! I love it when I can trust the chef to just bring me something good, or in this case, amazing. It forces you to step out of your comfort zone. I’m all for that when it comes to food!

    Reply

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    Mallory — September 19, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

    Looked up the menu before I even finished reading this post…I had previously heard about it and wanted to try it out since it is all local products now I will def. have to try this out.

    Reply

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    Kaitlyn in Bookland — September 19, 2011 @ 11:22 pm

    How can I live in Pittsburgh and have never heard of this?! I must try! I just saw Crab mac with white cheddar and herb crust on their side dish menu. Ahhh sounds delicious.

    Reply

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    Heather of Kitchen Concoctions — September 20, 2011 @ 12:22 am

    Can I go just for that dessert?!?!?!?

    Reply

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    Emily — September 20, 2011 @ 2:39 am

    It all looks so fine, but I would positively EXPLODE if I ate that much! It reminded me of a meal we had in Italy once, after which I had to waddle back to the hotel and lay down flat on my back for some time, rubbing my belly :)

    Reply

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    Ann — September 20, 2011 @ 6:38 am

    What a fabulous review and pictures! I live in Florida, but hubby is from Pittsburgh – the next time we’re there…I know where to eat!

    Reply

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    Katie — September 20, 2011 @ 7:03 am

    WOW! The food looks amazing and the kitchen is to die for! Would love to have that kitchen in my house. I live in South Florida, So no going for me anytime soon :( Ps. I was in San Francisco with my girls last month and on our list “To Do And See” was Trader Joe’s! I loved it. I was expecting it to be expensive. BUT so cheap! I wish they were in florida :( We have Whole Foods, Fresh Market and Publix that’s about it for our groceries. Have a good day! XoXo

    Reply

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    Jennifer@Peanut Butter and Peppers — September 20, 2011 @ 7:12 am

    Oh my! The vanilla orange panna cotta with balsamic strawberries and a strawberry crumble looks so good! That woulld be the perfect breakfast! You need to create that recipe! Dam it! Now I have to make one for dinner tonight, this is all I’m going to think about! Thanks Jessica!

    Reply

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    megan — September 20, 2011 @ 7:19 am

    Ei yi yi…killing me over here. Really. I am in pain. That food.looks.A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. While I share your penchant for ALL things sweet and over the top, I am also a diehard vegetable lover, so your soup and beet dish were right up my alley. OY!! If I ever get to Pitt, I’m going to Habitat and bringing my laptop and ordering your whole spread…that Smores dessert thingy??? COME ON NOW!! You were certainly shown the royal treatment and I hope it brings a lot of new business to Habitat…they surely deserve it!

    Love that you acted like a big girl and ate what they put in front of you too. Does my Mommy heart proud…see, I told you you’d like it ;)

    Reply

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    Amber — September 20, 2011 @ 7:23 am

    So when are you going to get around to recreating that soup for all of us?

    Reply

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    Beverly-Ann — September 20, 2011 @ 7:49 am

    We are heading to Pittsburgh at the beginning of October. My boyfriend wants to go to a steakhouse and have a steak prepared “Pittsburgh” style. What steakhouse do you recommend in the area?
    I’ve also never been to Trader Joe’s (as we don’t have them in Canada) so I am making my first trip there. I am excited. Anything I “must” buy? We will have a cooler with us so I can buy refrigerated items too.
    I love your blog!

    Reply

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    Jodi @ Southern Flavored Life — September 20, 2011 @ 9:12 am

    Gah, I have to eat there NOW. I have a feeling I probably couldn’t afford it! I love restaurants like this! Happy birthday to Mr. Sweet!

    Reply

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    Jessica — September 20, 2011 @ 9:27 am

    oh my s’mores! I cried a tear of joy at the sight of it’s deliciousness. for seriously though.. everything looked amazing.

    Happy b-day to Mr. Sweets..looks like a great way to celebrate

    Reply

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    Elizabeth — September 20, 2011 @ 9:43 am

    That whole dinner sounds fantastic! I can’t believe you never had beets before. They are so delicious and underrated! I’m also a fool for a good soup and that one sound absolutely amazing.

    Reply

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    Jordana Russell — September 20, 2011 @ 9:54 am

    OMG that alllllll looks SO yummy and amazing. I bet you were in hog heaven .. no offense lol.
    I want to go there.

    Reply

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    Diane — September 20, 2011 @ 9:55 am

    Mmm. Everything looks so good! Reminds me of my “go-to”, organic, vegetarian restaurant! Great pics too.

    Reply

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    Barb B. — September 20, 2011 @ 9:58 am

    Jess: Thanks so much for sharing that wonderful experience…..I have already shared your dining experience with my family we will be dining there real soon.

    Reply

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    bronsont — September 20, 2011 @ 10:54 am

    Here I sit, in my office and it’s almost time for lunch.

    I think I just chewed my tongue in half, how can anything I get for lunch compare with any single course you just described! That is AWESOME!

    Thank you, as always, for sharing :-)

    Reply

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    Alexandra Hoover — September 20, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

    I feel full just reading this. Everything looks SO good. If ever in Pittsburgh, this is definitely a stop I would make. I love the “local/organic” restaurants. I’m not overall a huge “MUST HAVE ORGANIC” shopper, but I feel like this more-localized places always have THE BEST menus. We had a few in Bloomington, IN where I went to school and they were awesome.

    Reply

    • Jessica — September 20th, 2011 @ 7:19 pm

      I’m the same way! I don’t buy all organic food but I also find the restaurants to be amazing.

      Reply

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    Amy @ A Little Nosh — September 20, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

    Scheduling my road trip to Pittsburgh…

    Reply

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    Kim in MD — September 20, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

    OMG- shut the front door! ;-) I so want to drive to Pittsburg tonight just for this meal!

    I saw Wicked in July, and it was one of the best (perhaps the best) musical I have ever seen! I absolutely loved it! I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say I have new found respect for the green witch! You will love it…have fun! :-)

    Reply

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    Nancy B. — September 20, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

    I live in the Burgh but have never been to Habitat. You’ve sold me on it – it looks delish! Can’t WAIT to try it!

    Reply

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    Casey @ Pocket Full of Sunshine — September 20, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

    Um, that all sounds unbelievable. So ridiculously good. I just ate lunch and now I’m hungry again!!

    Reply

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