Piper's Pub (Pittsburgh, PA)
If you have ever dreamed of eating with the support of a bar full of cheering fans, Piper's Pub can make that dream a reality.
Strolling in from Carson Street, my dining chum and I found our own seats in the pub and service followed right behind. It took us a while to order anything: There was a lot to take in.
The menus were first. For a pub, Piper's has an amazing variety of foreign beers on tap. Above and beyond that, they have cider and are ready to make all the beer-cider combos that are a trademark of UK dining.
In terms of food, the array of pub grub emulating that of places across the pond is eye-popping, from bangers and mash to fish and chips. But there's also a lot to look at off the menu.
Piper's is bright and clean, but it doesn't get too fancy with the set up. It avoids appealing to the phantom crowd that likes elaborate wall decorations in pubs, opting instead to make the surroundings of a simple solid quality.
There's a bar positioned at the front of the pub, surrounded by high tables and another room behind that filled with low tables.
Two big screens are suspended over the bar, playing European football all day, or at least when there's a game on. The surrounding crowd cheers while you eat. While I was there, the fans at Piper's were cheering for a Blackburn versus Manchester United game. When I got my appetizer and thought aloud that I would only eat half of it to save room for the main course, the entire room let loose a tremendous roar of disapproval. True, someone had just missed a shot by a hair's breadth on one of the big screens, but I feel like there was some other force causing the onscreen action to coincide with my meal.
The appetizer, hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage and deep fried, looked unreal on the menu. However, it was palatable to the point of adventurous when it got to our table.
Following the appetizers was the main course, which was shepherd's pie for me. It wasn't actually like a pie. Now, I realize that every time that I've had shepherd's pie before, someone was taking "pie" a little too literally.
At Piper's, shepherd's pie has a bottom layer of beef and gravy, with smashed potatoes dumped on top. The dish is spiced brilliantly and is the very definition of savory.
Yes, we're still talking about a pub. The parsley is only the tip of the herb iceberg that goes into a plate of shepherd's pie. The taste complexity could even be considered akin to Jagermeister: It's difficult to pick out just one.
While I was lost in a dream world of staff-wielding chefs dancing around my plate, my dining pal sampled the fish and chips. The fried fish was lofty on the inside and crisp on the outside. The chips were a fitting complement, a bit heavier and better than many.
I ordered a Scottish Wee Heavy beer to go with my meal, which the server described as creamy but not as dark as Guinness. An apt description, the Wee Heavy is good for anyone who enjoys Guinness but wants to try a different flavor.
Throughout the meal, what seemed to be a regular crowd gave wild vocalizations to the big screens, which added to the experience for me.
It isn't a fan experience like those of other sports bars. Either the laws of spectator physics are defied in Piper's, or the contrast between the volume during a regular play and a good play is bigger than ever before. Could someone do a Brackenridge on this?
In the end, though, you can rely on intuition to tell you that Piper's Pub is an excellent place to sit back and order a dish and a mug of anything.
The title "pub" is unassuming, but underestimate Piper's, and you'll miss the best pub grub (and footballing experience) in the 'Burgh. Even if everyone else weren't cheering for the game, you'd still be cheering for the meal.
We show Live English Premier League, Champions League, Scottish Premier League, FA Cup, Euro 2012 Qualifers, Internationals and much more.Specials:
English, Scotish and Irish ales: Tetley's, Beamish, Boddington's, Guinness and more. 30 types of vodka.
From 11am to 3pm on Sundays, the brunch menu offers British breakfast dishes.