Published by Angie. Last Updated on October 5, 2023.
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Note: Butcher and the Rye has been closed since the COVID pandemic and the space is currently being used as rotating pop-up bars. We hope that Butcher and the Rye will return soon.
Butcher and the Rye is one of the hottest restaurants in Pittsburgh, and guess where it is? Downtown!
We've always thought that this is one part of the city that needs more unique restaurants, and hearing about people going downtown just to eat is welcomed news.
In fact, so many people are trying to eat at Butcher and the Rye that it is quite difficult to get a reservation. We tried for weeks to get a table on a Saturday night that worked with our schedules, and after trying for quite some time we were finally able to get in at 9PM by calling just over a week in advance.
Not knowing when we'd make it back and that reservations are hard to come by, we went all out.
Small Plates All Around at Butcher and the Rye
We started with the pate and the pig candy, both of which were talked up by our waiter and by reviews we'd read.
The pate came topped with a thin layer of Sauternes jelly (which, honestly, is what made us order the dish because Sauternes anything is delicious) and a side of grilled bread.
The purpose of the jelly was to provide a sweet contrast to the incredibly umami, fatty flavor of the pate. We could have used more of the jelly as the flavor was barely discernible with the rather generous pate portion size (which could easily feed four people), but if we were careful in scooping we could make out the incredible flavor combination that was intended.
The pig candy, on the other hand, was less inspiring. We were expecting a layer of caramelization on the outside but we didn't really get that.
The apple kimchi and miso caramel also did not have as big of punch as we would have anticipated, so while having a giant hunk of pork belly is never something to complain about, we were wanting more from the dish overall.
Next came the house-made focaccia which, while tasty, was much more leavened and airy than any focaccia I've ever had before.
Think of it more as a little loaf of bread and ignore the name of this one altogether. It came with three dips: an olive tapenade (good), a white bean puree (better), and a whipped ricotta (best). I could have eaten a giant tub of the whipped ricotta.
For our main course we had two small plates: the shishito peppers and the beef tartare.
The shishito peppers were charred on the outside and had a nice smoky flavor that complemented their spiciness well.
The beef tartare was the standout small plate in terms of presentation and taste. Ignore all of your preconceptions about beef tartare and order this one straight away because the texture, flavor, and presentation of this one was simply unreal.
Going past the food, one thing I really appreciated was the pace and timing of the meal. We ordered a ton of small plates and the staff knew exactly how to pair and sequence them together such that we were never overloaded with food at any given time and also had good flavor combinations throughout the night.
This level of care and understanding of the menu items should not go unnoticed.
Dreaming of the Whiskey
What is there to say about a place that has eight massive shelves of whiskey on a beautiful display for all to see? Well, you can't say much because the alcohol collection speaks for itself!
With a strong thirst for whiskey, the true surprise of the bar came when only half of the cocktail menu items actually contained whiskey at all! It took a few minutes to get over this one, but it didn't take more than one sip of our cocktails to realize that the bartenders knew what they were doing-whiskey or not.
But as far as cocktails are concerned, the true standout of the night was the off-menu, premium Manhattan. Made with house-aged spirits and crafted with extreme care, this iteration was among the best we've ever had.
Butcher and the Rye was located downtown at 212 6th Street. It is presently being used as a pop-up bar space.
Looking for things to do downtown after dinner? Check out the Pittsburgh Symphony, Pittsburgh Opera, or Pittsburgh CLO for a night out! Or, for more reviews of Pittsburgh restaurants, click the previous link to be taken to our directory of every review on Discover the Burgh!