Lunch Break: The Cafe Carnegie.

A lunch full of culture and fine dining. Now where can you find such a thing?

img_1118Opening tomorrow, enjoy this exquisite combo at The Cafe Carnegie found inside the Carnegie Museum of Natural Art. Lucky for me, I have an “in” at the museum and received the opportunity to attend their pre-opening that allowed guests to try out each course on the menu.

Local Cheddar and Bacon Gougeres.

I received two tickets for the pre-opening on Giving Tuesday, November 29th – whether that was intentional, I don’t know, but I was willing to take the food they were willing to give.

I was scheduled for a reservation at noon. I grabbed a friend at work and we strolled down to the museum. I spotted “The Cafe Carnegie” sign and walked up to the hostess podium. The hostess was extremely friendly and even complimented how nice and professional my coworker and I were dressed – we don’t mess around with fashion or at least my friend doesn’t.

Our waiter arrived shortly and quickly poured us waters, handed us menus and then I was shocked. This was the nicest menu of options I had ever seen at a museum in Pittsburgh.  It occurred to me that The Cafe Carnegie might be the first of its kind in Pittsburgh.

img_1120We both started with an appetizer. I selected the local cheddar and bacon gougeres. Three little flakey sandwiches lay on my plate filled with pickled onions and arugula. They were light and airy and the onions gave each bite a nice flavor.

My friend ordered the oysters on the half shell. What? – oysters for lunch? Yes, that was an appetizer option and they were delicious. In the center was mignonette sauce for some flavor. The mignonette sauce was good, but the waiter read his mind and before our eyes, hot sauce was also brought to the table.

For the next course, we both agreed – it had to be the roasted leg of lamb. The tender and shredded meat was combined with chickpea puree and escarole on a rosemary garlic baguette with fries on the side. The puree added a great texture combined with the escarole and tender lamb. The baguette was fresh and completed the sandwich. I’m not typically a shoestring fries fan, but these fries were crisp and had the right about the oil and flavor. I didn’t even need ketchup to compliment them.img_1123

The fun wasn’t over. Now for dessert. There were two dessert options – chocolate mousse and burnt almond cake. We ordered both.

The mousse was good but desired some dark chocolate or fruit on top. Still, mousse is mousse and it was tasty, but the burnt almond cake was even better. The caramelized almonds were crisp, the pudding sweet and the cake fluffy. It was a delight.

Burnt Almond Cake.

This lunch was designed and brought to you by chef and owner of Dinette in East liberty, Sonja Finn. Known for her simple dishes featuring locally sourced, high-quality ingredients, Finn is also a James Beard semifinalist.

I didn’t give it a try, but the new full-service restaurant features a walk-up espresso and wine bar. And although highly recommended, you don’t need to purchase a ticket to the museum to enjoy the cafe. It is open to the public for lunch, weekend brunch and hors d’oeuvres on Thursday evenings till 8p.m. The cafe currently has a lovely menu, but their grand opening will be in January and will feature a full menu.

The Cafe Carnegie is not your typical cafe in a museum, it’s a new lunch option in Oakland.

Experience Pittsburgh, One Bite at a Time.

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