The initial plan was to visit the famed Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh's Northside, then enjoy dinner, cocktails, and retire to the newly opened Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, a Kimpton Hotel.
Since reading of its opening, I wanted to stay at Hotel Monaco, but really, what occasion would require me to board Downtown when I reside nearby? Boyfriend took advantage of the planned night out and booked us a room, much to my excitement.
The decor and design of Hotel Monaco is beyond eclectic and unlike any hotel that I've ever visited. The theme seems to be bright colors, varied patterns, and birds. Lots and lots of birds.
Unfortunately, traffic and city drivers were a bit too much for Boyfriend and me; we did not have enough time for the Warhol before needing to make our dinner reservations at 8 p.m. We settled into our room at Hotel Monaco and then quickly made our way to our dinner spot, Morton's the Steakhouse, located on Liberty Avenue.
I believed that Morton's is known for tender delicious meats and a classy, yet comfortable environment. I was excited to sink my teeth into a filet and wash it down with a glass of Cabernet. Unfortunately for Boyfriend and I, our trip to Morton's was not exactly the meaty heaven that we had envisioned.
The cold was harsh as we walked down Liberty, so by the time that we arrived promptly for our 8 p.m. Reservation, Boyfriend and I were a bit frozen. We were escorted to our table and I was surprised to see that the restaurant was pretty empty. Aside from two or three other tables, we were dining alone, which seemed strange to me for a Friday evening.
A very quick glance at the menu made me gasp as I realized just how pricey this establishment is, but Boyfriend assured me that we should order whatever we wanted. Our server, Shawn (or Sean or Shaun), enthusiastically ran through the menu to promote his "favorite" items (and the most expensive) while using the word "awesome" a bit too much. Morton's is an ala carte restaurant, so your slab of meat doesn't just come with a side. You have to order everything separately, which really adds up.
To thaw ourselves out, we started with bowls of soup: lobster bisque for Boyfriend and five onion soup for me. I'm not a fan of onions, but as I'm allergic to shellfish, onion soup was my only other option. Surprisingly enough, the onions were not overwhelming and the broth was tasty; naturally, my favorite part was the melted mess of cheese and soggy bread crouton.
For my dinner, I ordered a 6 ounce filet and Boyfriend opted for a mixed grill of filet, shrimp, and bacon wrapped scallops. Morton's sides are made for sharing and we settled upon our server's awesome suggestion of awesome twice baked potatoes au gratin. As we were finishing our soup, the main courses arrived to the table and I was excited to dive right in. We loaded our forks, looked at each other with enthusiasm, then bit in to our food to discover... Not a lot of flavor. The only way to really describe my filet is with the word "boring." Next, I tried the potatoes hoping for something more exciting than the meat. Again, I was met with disappointment. The twice baked potatoes au gratin were really nothing special and I wouldn't have been surprised if I found out that they came from a box and powdered cheese packet.
If my dinner had been served to me at Outback Steakhouse, I likely would have thought "not your best try, Outback, but you're a restaurant with menu items like 'blooming onions' and 'Aussie fries,' so it's okay." But because my hunk of unseasoned meat itself had a price higher than $30 (JUST the meat), I was a little miffed. Boyfriend's filet was equally as bland and his scallops were chewy. The shrimp was also boring.
We chewed in disappointment while our server buzzed around with the other servers before retiring to a wall near the open kitchen. Each server stood against the wall facing the diners, leering. I realize that they were just waiting to see if we needed anything, but due to our close proximity to the server line-up, it was uncomfortable. Eventually, our server arrived and seemed amazed that we had no interest in doggie bags for our leftovers. He brought our dessert of hot cocoa cake (which he assured us would be awesome) with vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries.
The cake was good, but it still didn't make us say "wow" or make our eyes roll back in our heads while salivating. It wasn't awesome. When our server asked if we wanted coffee and we declined, he described it as awesome. That wasn't awesome either. Nothing was awesome. The only thing awesome about the dinner was the many ways in which our server used the word awesome.
We finished our dessert and I thought that the highlight of my meal was the smattering of raspberries served with our cake. Boyfriend and I reclaimed our coats and ventured back into the cold before returning to our cozy room at Hotel Monaco. We eventually meandered to the attached bar-restaurant The Commoner for some unique cocktails and sightings of Pittsburgh celebrities (hope you enjoyed your appetizer, Bus). We retired to our room later and I was hopeful that our upcoming Commoner breakfast-in-bed would be a bit more appetizing than Morton's. I was not disappointed.
Mid-morning the next day, Boyfriend and I placed our breakfast orders to room service and were presented with a tray of fresh fruit, delightful carbs, freshly squeezed juice and boxed water.
I very much enjoyed my order of light flakey pancakes topped with maple syrup and a lemon-thyme butter. Whoever came up with the lemon-thyme butter... God bless you. It was truly awesome. Boyfriend scarfed down his bagel and omelette while we watched television and basked in Hotel Monaco's gloriousness.
I was sad to leave, but happy that Boyfriend put so much thought into planning a fun evening out on our town. I don't really have a reason to return to Hotel Monaco, as I don't make it a habit to stay in town, but I plan to make it my mission to return to The Commoner for their delicious food and creative drink concoctions. I have no intentions of retuning to Morton's; I'd rather have the AWESOME Outback Special.