or, the Whale: Restaurant Review

or, the Whale has a nautical theme, but the motif is subdued. There are no plastic swordfish or smirking pirate captains, just heavy ropes and scientific drawings of whales.

The name of the restaurant refers to the title of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick, or the Whale” though the novel is usually just known by the name of the whale.

This Pittsburgh steak and seafood house is in the Distrikt Hotel, on Boulevard of the Allies downtown. The hotel is part of Hilton’s “Curio Collection.” The hotel itself is fine, the rooms are a bit small and dark. Apparently the Curio Collection means unique buildings that are not always standard Hiltons.

Anyway, we liked the restaurant. Our party of three had seared salmon (very good), filet mignon with lobster macaroni and cheese (excellent) and the vegetarian had spinach risotto (very good, tasted like spinach, not just like risotto with spinach in it).

The otW fries — Or The Whale — were very good. Large, with brine coating and a side of charred tomatoes as catsup.

The wine list is good, not huge and does not include starter wines in the $35 or so range for those who just want wine with dinner and do not want to pay a lot. We did not have wine, beer and drinks instead. I recommend The Conquistador, which included tequila, grand marnier, agave, smoked cinnamon stick (burnt at one end just before serving), calabrian chili and chocolate bitters.

The waitress was excellent. She warned me that the drink would be spicy, but it was not excessively hot, just well-made and the hints of chili and chocolate lingered long after the glass was empty.

Cocktails cost around $11 and up. Draft beer started at $6. Desserts weren’t real expensive, one diner in our group hard a chocolate mousse on top of chocolate cake, rated excellent. I didn’t try it.

The restaurant is on two levels, with an open kitchen displaying the wood-fired stove on the first. The bar is on the second level.

Dinner for three (no wine, remember) was $170 with tip. Not cheap, but service and setting were excellent.

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