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THE ANGRY SNAPPER MAKI WAS SO EXCITING WE WISHED FOR MORE

DARK ROAST {BY RYAN DETO}

Black Forge Coffee House, Allentown’s new and only coffee shop, exudes more of an edge than most bean havens might. The walls are adorned with goat-skull sculptures and snake paintings. It feels dungeon-like, but in a comforting way: Customers gently nod their heads to lowvolume heavy metal, and the Oakland skyline is visible through black curtains. Ashley Corts, who co-owns the venue with her business partner, Nick Miller, says the edgy vibe was an intentional choice. “We both have had to work for someone who wanted you to look a certain way. Now, we can combine our passions of coffee and music,” she says. Black Forge offers typical beverages, such as cappuccinos, teas and lattes, but also others with a little bite. The Hellhound is a concoction of chocolate, espresso and a bevy of spices, topped with whipped cream and espresso beans. The cold-brew iced coffee has a smooth finish and an in-your-face name: God Damn Cold Brew. Allentown beckoned the pair (who both live nearby) in part because the community embraced the idea of an independent coffeehouse. They received a year of rate-abatement with help from the Hilltop Alliance community organization, and many Allentowners donated to the venture’s Indiegogo campaign. Since its Aug. 9 opening, Black Forge has served as a neighborhood gathering place. The coffeehouse hosts podcasts and other events, and local artists often meet there. “A lot of people in the community did not leave their houses, but that is changing now,” says Corts.

{PHOTO BY VANESSA SONG}

Sichuan braised pork belly with a Japanese yam, carrot, and ginger purée accompanied by house-pickled heirloom tomatoes, and Blood Diamond martini

FAVORITES AND MORE {BY ANGELIQUE BAMBERG + JASON ROTH}

RYANDETO@PGHCITYPAPER.COM

1206 Arlington Ave., Allentown. 412291-8994 or www.blackforgecoffee.com

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You know who has been enjoying the hot days? Tomatoes. Come hang out with them and their buddy, garlic, at the 11th annual

Red, Ripe and Roasted. Activities, cooking demos, tomato contests (smallest, largest, ugliest). Free admission with bag of fresh produce for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. 11 a.m.4 p.m. Sun., Aug. 30. Phipps Conservatory, Oakland. www.phipps.conservatory.org

AN ASIAN KITCHEN is a restaurant that challenges a Google search. Taken together, the three words seem more descriptive than nominative, and capture a broad net of Asian-ish restaurant results. But shortened to “Pan,” as it is on the restaurant’s sign and logo, the name plucks specific, pleasing synapses of both minimalism and double entendre. Opened in the former Tamari space on Butler Street by the group that runs the Andora trio of restaurants, Pan serves a decidedly upscale selection of — you guessed it — pan-Asian foods. The sushi creations are extraordinarily imaginative, with nary an option you might find at any traditional sushi house. The rest of the menu is rather more conservative, offering appealing, but not daring, updates of familiar dishes from the cuisines of

East and Southeast Asia. We think this is a wise approach. Classics don’t need to be reinvented, and versions such as chicken tom kha with noodles and bok choi, or char siu-style hanger steak with a bloodorange sauce, allow us to put the kitchen’s innovations in a familiar context.

PAN ASIAN KITCHEN 3519 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412-325-3435 HOURS: Mon.-Tue. 4-10 p.m.; Wed.-Thu. 4 p.m.-midnight; Fri. 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Sat. 11 a.m.-1 a.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. PRICES: $7-16 LIQUOR: Full bar

CP APPROVED Pan’s dumplings might be the most traditional of all, with ground pork and napa cabbage in a smooth, tender wrapper,

served alongside a sesame-soy dipping sauce. They were good, juicy inside and dense with ingredients. By contrast, wokblistered shishito peppers were served with Brussels sprouts in a pomegranatespiked soy sauce, a combination that seemed all over the place but held together pretty well. Though the sprouts, as is so often the case, could have been cooked a bit more. We were surprised when edamame arrived already shelled and tossed with a truffle soy sauce, but the smoky, earthy truffle flavoring nicely augmented the slight sweetness of the beans. It was a large serving, though, and best for sharing; to eat the whole thing oneself would have wearied the palate. Just the opposite with the Angry Snapper maki sushi, which was so exciting CONTINUES ON PG. 24

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Profile for Pittsburgh City Paper

August 26, 2015  

Pittsburgh City Paper Volume 25 Issue 34

August 26, 2015  

Pittsburgh City Paper Volume 25 Issue 34