Coughlin's Law opened in Mount Washington in 2018 and has quickly grown to be one of the neighborhood's most popular hangout spots.
Armed with a large bar, ample seating, an outdoor patio with a partial city view, and a wonderful happy hour, this particular spot's popularity should be a surprise to no one.
We were invited out as guests of Coughlin's Law to check out the space and their rather robust food menu, and share our thoughts in this full review!
The Biggest Draw of Coughlin's Law? The Bar
Within moments of arriving to Coughlin's Law you'll likely understand why its biggest draw for visitors is its bar. The restaurant has a 40+ draft beer list including well known local and national breweries with a wide variety of beer styles- including many seasonal specialties.
Throw in a half-dozen or so wines on tap as well as several house-made cocktail creations, and it shouldn't take much to understand why this is one of the most popular spots for those who want to enjoy a good drink or two on Mount Washington.
While many of the cocktail options during our visit included notable ingredients like rum chata whipped cream, Fireball, tongue-numbing buzz buttons, or even a fishbowl cocktail (all tailored for the restaurant's college-aged clientele), there were also many staples to satisfy cocktail purists as well.
Before switching to beer we sampled the Coughlin's Negroni which swaps out Campari for its less bitter counterpart, Aperol, and is topped with a splash of grapefruit San Peligrino for balance. This one comes out separated with an Aperol layer on the bottom for effect, and can be mixed table side for a sweet, not too bitter Negroni.
But while the cocktails were intriguing to us we'd be lying if we didn't say that the draft beer selection won us over, and we switched over for the rest of the evening.
A Few Surprises for a Gastropub Meal
As we were visiting Coughlin's Law to have a meal in addition to drinks from the bar, we dove down into the gastropub menu of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, wings, tacos, and mains to try and pick out a few of the ones we'd consider unique to the restaurant.
We started with the bacon lollipops at the recommendation of our waitress which included five wrapped pieces of bacon with a sweet glaze as well as an ample helping of chipotle syrup. The bacon on its own was cooked fairly well and had a nice subtle sweetness to it; however, the side syrup had a sweetness on par with that of maple syrup which overpowered the chipotle flavor and made the dish be as much of a dessert as it was an appetizer.
The Coughlin's Burger was something that got our attention right away as it is topped with smoked cheddar, pickles, chili slaw, an ample serving of pork belly, bacon jam, and smoked aioli.
But what the menu will not tell you is that the Coughlin's Law Burger itself is also smoked.
Yes, you read that right. The Coughlin's Burger comes out with a glass bell over it that is completely filled with smoke. Your server then unveils it in a formal presentation that will likely drop your jaw and fill the immediate area with the rich smell of smoke that is reminiscent of an outdoor barbecue.
As such, we'll be the first to say that this burger is smoky. Really smoky. If smoke flavor is not your thing, this burger is probably not for you. However, as avid outdoor barbecue fans and owners of a smoking bell ourselves for cocktails, this was right up our alley.
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The smoke flavor does overpower some of the subtleties of the chili slaw and bacon jam ever-so-slightly, but the burger made up for it with being a perfectly cooked medium (a rarity in Pittsburgh) and still having some rather robust flavors. Throw on a side of their sweeter-than-average sweet potato fries and you have a fairly devious combo altogether.
For the tacos we opted to go for the mix-and-match option to try three unique varieties- the beer braised pulled pork, blackened tuna, and butternut squash with toasted pepitas and adobo sauce.
The first thing you'll notice about the tacos is that the tortillas come out grilled, giving them a nice crunch in what is otherwise a soft, flour shell. The flavors of each were nicely balanced and did not skimp on the spice factor that most gastropub tacos seem to ignore.
Couple that with a fairly generous serving of meat in each, and the three tacos ended up being quite filling.
Be Sure to Visit During Happy Hour
One of the things we love about Coughlin's Law, other than the burger and their skyline view, is that they offer a respectable happy hour with permanent specials as well as rotating, daily offers.
Daily happy hours occur from 5-7 on weeknights and include $6 cocktails (a savings of $2-3 dollars in most cases- our favorite option), $1 off drafts, and $2 off appetizers. Beyond this, every day of the week except Friday has their own special which ranges from $1.75 5oz pours (Monday) with $5 build-your-own burgers, half price crowlers and brewery of the month features (Tuesday), wine Wednesdays, and more.
While we suspect these specials will change with the seasons (check their website to confirm current offerings- the above is accurate to our visit in late 2018), we can fully respect a gastropub that goes all in for happy hour with a well stocked bar to match its offerings.
Overall, Coughlin's Law surprised us by taking what appeared to be a conventional gastropub menu and elevating some of the menu options above its peers. Yes, some of the menu items are standard gastropub fare. And yes, some of the cocktails are designed for the college crowd. But many of the restaurant's unique offerings come together to be a standout that we cannot ignore.
Coughlin's Law is located at 10 Virginia Avenue in Mount Washington. We were guests of Coughlin's Law for this review. As always, all opinions are our own.