Dinner at Habitat.
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.
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.
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.