Last night, after I returned home from a second viewing of The Hunger Games (totally got my mum addicted now too… whoops), we decided to catch a late dinner that would qualify for an Achievement. The problem with this, of course, was that it was a Saturday night, we hadn’t planned in advance, and it was raining, so probably every other resident of the fine City of Pittsburgh wanted to go out to dinner to escape the gloominess as well.
As luck would have it, we had a Groupon for a downtown restaurant that had plenty of seating available, as we were dining during the most popular theater time (9pm) and they were between rushes. So, after bundling up against the elements, we found ourselves seated at the bar at Bossa Nova, a tapas menu on one side, and a cocktail list on the other.
I must admit, my first instinct upon sitting down in Bossa Nova was that I was WAY out of my element. Even though I was wearing my favorite way-overpriced designer jeans, I felt horribly underdressed, almost as if there had been a sorority prom theme that no one had told me about before I arrived. I realize that I’m the type of broad who is most comfortable at coffeeshops and dive bars, but I really did feel like I should have borrowed an outfit from Carrie Bradshaw before coming down.
However, as soon as our fantastic bartender, Annie, put a drink into my hand, all my fears melted away. The staff at the bar was super down-to-earth, even if some of our fellow diners didn’t seem to be, and these girls could mix a mean drink. I started off with one of their house martinis, called a Cherry Squirt. The ingredients, if I remember correctly, were cherry vodka, lemonade, and triple sec, but the taste was like a deceptively-alcoholic Capri Sun.
We decided to order tapas in individual rounds, so we could space out the flavors and set a nice pace for the evening. Round one was the bacon-wrapped shrimp (we’d wanted to check out the scallops, but alas, they were out of scallops and salmon by the time we made it down). These were so yummy: the bacon added just a hint of smoke, and the horseradish dipping sauce was just the right match. Also, this was a good one to start with, as the portion was quite manageable.
For round two, we went a little heavier and tried the ‘BBP’ sandwich. That stands for ‘bacon, brie, and potato,’ and this little sandwich definitely delivered on all three counts. This actually reminded us of the smashed potato pizza we love so much from Fuel n Fuddle. There’s something about those slices of red potatoes on bread that taste just right.
We took things a little lighter with the third round (which is about the same time as my second round drink, a standard, well-crafted Cosmopolitan). This plate is the garlic mushrooms. I loved these because right in the name you’ve got two of my favorite foods. Lucky for me, Michael was in the mood to talk when these arrived, so I used that to my advantage and may have taken a little more than my half… 🙂
For the final round, we went for broke and ordered two large plates. First was the fried calamari, served with spicy garlic aioli. I felt like the first three dishes we ordered were pretty reasonable in size, so I was shocked when this massive pile of squid arrived in front of us. The calamari was great (not-too heavy on the breading, excellent aioli), but I would DEFINITELY recommend saving this plate for when there’s a group of you out and you need some protein energy for dancing. It’s a couple of bucks more than the average dish on the tapas menu, and for good reason: it’s gigantic.
Finally, along with the calamari, we ordered the cheese quesadilla (they’ve got several kinds, one that can be made with a variety of meat, and one cheese), which came with spinach, onions, and manchego and mozzarella cheese. Both the guac and salsa were excellent, and this was a much more reasonably-sized plate to split between two people.
After I got over my initial reservations that I was being judged by the other patrons of Bossa Nova for my lack of Jimmy Choo stiletto heels, I really enjoyed it. We couldn’t have asked for better service from our bartender Annie, and each plate of food was tasty.
The only downside of our trip to Bossa Nova was that we somehow timed our departure to coincide with the ballet letting out, and we had to fight through swarms of theater-going Yinzers to get to our car.
But this is how awesome we felt when we outsmarted them all and took the seven flights of stairs to our car. It may have been the hefty Cosmopolitan talking, but I seem to remember Tweeting about winning the Cultural District Parking Garage Hunger Games…
Overall: Bossa Nova is worth checking out if you’re downtown before or after a show. Great booze, a reasonably-priced selection of tapas plates, and plenty of room, so even if you feel out of place, you can find your own spot to get cozy.