The Square Circuit

Academia, parenthood, living in a bankrupt city, and what I read in the process.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Several weeks ago--after commencement--we wanted to go out with some friends to a NICE PLACE, someplace new, someplace grown-up, someplace where we didn't have to worry about high chairs or slow service or chicken-fingers-versus-mac-and-cheese. We'd been hoping for something downtown, not only because it was close after the ceremony but also because we all want to THINK that Pittsburgh's downtown is an attraction. I had wanted to go to Seviche for a while, in fact ever since we went to the Sonoma Grille with friends and noticed that their appetizers were superior to their meals and then soon after that noticed that the owners of the Grille were opening a new place, dedicated only to "small plates" (how San Francisco) and to Latin small plates at that.

So it was with both cautious anticipation and also that constant dull proleptic throb of "what precisely is going to suck here tonight?" that we came to Seviche the other night. And fortunately, we left pretty damn satisfied. It's a total pick-up joint, which is funny for those of us married with little kids (how far away is that scene?), and my only real complaint is that they don't take reservations and they don't have a "list" for people arriving: you just wait for someone to leave, and then pounce. This policy of course privileges the obnoxious alpha males in the world, but hell--it's a pick-up joint, so they are already the target audience. We did manage to land a table outside. The food was really quite good, both ambitious and tasty, and fresh as well, which is uncommon around here. The pulled-pork empanada thing (in a deep-fried, butter-soaked pastry) was just great, and although I would have preferred slightly larger portions of the ceviches they were, taken on their own merits, excellent. We had just about everything on the menu between us, and it was all quite good.

As we left, one of our dinner companions noted that as things started to get really hopping there, about 10pm, and as the cars started pulling up and the valets got busy and the past-their-prime barflies started to show up, that this little corner of downtown Pittsburgh started to look "like Baltimore." On one level, it's not a great comment on the city that one is surprised that things are as lively and vibrant as... Baltimore. But on another, I know what he's talking about.



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