Altius on Grandview Ave in Mt Washington is a relative newcomer to the fine dining scene in Pittsburgh set among establishments such as Le Mont and Monterey Bay Fish Grotto. With all of these restaurants, you're understandably paying a premium for the Pittsburgh city views, so we recently dined at Altius to see if the food and experience was worth the cost.
A Million Dollar View on Mount Washington
The view from Altius is simply stunning, there's no denying it. Floor to ceiling windows showcase the three rivers and downtown Pittsburgh in all its glory. There are basically two rows of seating, one that consists of tables and chairs that's adjacent to the windows, and another row of semi-circular booths that is not adjacent to the windows. We were seated in one of the booth tables and we still had a pretty awesome view.
We dined here to celebrate our wedding anniversary- we were lucky enough that the evening coincided with a Pirates fireworks night. Our reservation was for 9:15 PM and our entrees ended up coming out with perfect timing to enjoy the fireworks. Granted, the timing of every game is different, but a reservation around 9 PM should, in most cases, get you some awesome dinner entertainment.
Specialty Cocktails are a Must Try
We had planned on drinking wine with our meal, but the cocktail list was too intriguing to pass up. We started with the white sangria which was fruity with peach brandy, and the Captain Sparrow, the better choice of the two. The Captain Sparrow was a rum-based drink with coffee that had a nice balance of bitterness and sweetness with the addition of fernet, vermouth, vanilla, and some cherry bitters.
For our second round we picked Love and Theft, our favorite cocktail of the evening. The Love and Theft was a mixture of bourbon, vanilla, Cynar, and pineapple that was supremely well-balanced with a hint of fruitiness, and prominent but not overpowering bourbon flavor. Perfection!
Stellar Appetizers and Entrees
Many of the appetizers were seafood-focused, which we loved but may not be for everyone. We chose the calamari milanese, a huge portion of calamari that had a rich, crunchy breading on the outside and was served over an arugula salad with a briny caper vinaigrette.
The entrees on our visit were pretty typical for a fine dining establishment and included options like scallops, salmon, lamb, steak, chicken, pork chops, and one vegetarian option (a jasmine fried rice).
We couldn't pass up the duck and the daily special, a wild-caught salmon. The duck was cooked mostly very well with just a few chewy pieces. It was served over polenta but the highlights were the rich mushroom confit and the fruity apricot and fig sauces.
The wild-caught salmon was a little drier in the thinner parts of the filet, but still had a good flavor. The fish was served on top of a risotto that was a bit undercooked and crunchy but was creamy and filled with delicious crab chunks. All of this was sitting on top of a lobster beurre blanc that was the definition of indulgent – rich, smooth, buttery, and slightly sweet. The dish overall was almost too rich and could have benefited from a little bitterness or acidity.
Save Some Room for Dessert
We couldn't resist the black forest cake dessert, which is really more like a presentation or an art piece. The dessert appeared on the plate as a giant chocolate sphere – then our server poured a hot cherry fudge sauce on top of it that melted the sphere to reveal a cake hiding inside. The cake was our favorite part of the dessert with layers of dark chocolate, cherry gelee, and a kirsch whip cream. This dessert is rich, delicious, and so much fun to eat that we highly recommend it.
If that's not extravagant enough, I didn't even mention all of the little “extras” throughout the evening. Shortly after we were seated, our server brought a welcome snack of sweet and salty popcorn. Amuse-bouches of little tartlets filled with a strawberry goat cheese mixture came before our appetizer. Servers came around with a bread basket several times during the meal. And finally, we were given little white chocolate key lime truffles in to-go bags at the end of the meal.
All of these special touches really added up and made the evening more an experience than just a meal. In that respect, the expense of our evening out was justified even if the entrees were a bit high for the elevated setting. If you're looking to impress someone from out of town, or just want to celebrate a special occasion, Altius is a solid choice for doing so.
Altius is located at 1230 Grandview Avenue. Although the restaurant is technically in the Duquesne Heights neighborhood, we refer to the business district as a whole as Mount Washington for ease of reference.
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