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Restaurant Review: Habitat

This was my second time visiting Habitat at the trendy Fairmont Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh.  I had been here once before with my parents and brother before seeing a show, and we loved everything about our first meal.  As soon as I saw that Habitat was participating in Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, it was the perfect excuse to indulge in a night out with my husband.

Their pre-fixe menu included the following options:

First Course
Roasted organic local beets
Goat cheese, local wild flower honey, coriander
Baby bibb salad
Local apples, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, toasted hazelnut-Dijon dressing
Pennsylvania mushroom tart
Braised leek and parmesan cream

Second Course
Homemade ricotta gnocchi with braised organic oxtail
Root vegetables, red wine jus
Georges Bank diver scallops
Ratatouille, Tagiasco olives, white anchovies
Roasted chicken thigh
Sage, onion and sausage cannelloni, chestnut sauce

Third Course
Selection of your choice from the dessert menu

From my first visit to Habitat, I remembered the service being exceptional – and this time was no different.  Although I’m a pescetarian (I eat fish), scallops are one dish that never interest me.  When I asked the server about a vegetarian option for the pre-fixe dinner, the server said I could do a vegetarian fried rice with tofu (which I heard from Skinny Architect was nothing spectacular), vegetarian pad thai with tofu (very tempting) or the ricotta gnocchi with a vegetable ratitouille instead of oxtail.   I typically only indulge in pasta once in a while, and decided THIS would be the place to try a homemade gnocchi.

I started with a glass of wine that I always choose when available – Sangiovese.  According to Wikipedia (incredibly reputable, I know), it’s a variety with “fresh fruity flavours of strawberry and a little spiciness”.  Yum.


For my first course, I chose the mushroom tart:


The mushrooms were incredibly flavorful and the parmesan cream was no joke – very indulgent and buttery, but it didn’t overpower the rest of the dish.

We chatted and munched on fresh bread before our entrees came.  Most people would be appalled at a 3 piece serving of pasta, but it was the perfect amount.

My ricotta gnocchi: 


My husband chose the steak of the day, which happened to be a 12oz NY Strip:


A close up of his potato gratin – incredibly thin layers of stacked yukon gold potatoes with a buttery richness in between each slice.  This has to be labor intensive!


Since I was smarter than my husband and ordered the prefixe menu, I got a dessert with my meal!  We asked our server which were his favorites – once he described them both, we had to order one of each!

Warm gingerbread
Hot brandysauce, brown butter pears and lemon ice cream:


Oh my gosh.  Perfection on a plate – perfect balance of the warm gingerbread, cold ice cream (one of the best I’ve ever tasted and I would never choose a citrus ice cream) and the candied ginger put it over the top.  The online menu said it was with pecans, but I loved the pears instead!

Apple a day
Calvados, sour cream pound cake, caramel apples, crisp streusel, Gala apple chips and Kistaco Farms apple cider sorbet:


All of the different apple textures – baked, fried, raw – gave this so many layers of flavor.  The streusel is something I could eat by the handfull, and the apple cider sorbert was so simply perfect.

Dessert was my favorite part of the night, but each course was wonderful and totally worth the price.  Habitat isn’t a restaurant I can afford to dine at more than a few times a year, but it would be my first choice, hands down.

Thank you, Chef Andrew, for another amazing meal!

8 responses to “Restaurant Review: Habitat

  1. Caitlin January 23, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Yummy! I would have gone with the gingerbread dessert since I’m not an apple fan (yes, it’s true). I would’ve chosen the gnocchi too if I wanted a veggie option! Definitely unique. And that wine sounds good – strawberry and spice? Very interesting!

  2. sprint2thetable January 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Everything looks delish! I would have ordered exactly what you did. There’s nothing better than well-done gnocchi.

    This makes we want to come to PIttsburgh!

  3. totesmyoats January 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    That menu looks amazing!

  4. peaceloveandoats January 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve never actually done a pre-fixe menu and would love to try! It just seems more fun!

  5. Melissa January 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    That gnocchi does look like the perfect amount!!! I love Willow in Pittsburgh–have you ever been?? Amazing scallops (if you ever want to try) and desserts!

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