Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on August 20, 2021.
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But rather than adding into their collection of bars at the corner of Forbes and Shady Avenue, this one is located in the heart of East Liberty– bringing a much welcomed addition to the neighborhood's drinking scene.
We were recently invited out by the team at Lorelei to check out the new space, and share our thoughts in this full review! (Note that this review has been updated to reflect additional visits that we made on our own as well.)
Lorelei Feels like a European Beer Hall
The moment you walk into Lorelei, you'll feel like you've been transported to a European bar- with half being a modern Pittsburgh cocktail bar and half being a Alpine beer hall. From the name (the siren who enchants sailors on the Rhine River), the decor, to the European inspired creations and dishes, everything about the bar screams Alps and for a while we had to remind ourselves we were still in Pittsburgh.
Well, except for the size perhaps- European beer halls have that one on us!
The bar offers an impressive spread of beer, wines, and cocktails and all have a German or Alpine twist.
Beer at Lorelei
The beer at Lorelei is a hyper-focused list of lagers with a number of selections from local, domestic, and European breweries (plus a few similar styles).
At first we weren't quite sure what to make of the beer list as we are not lager heads typically; however, when the team behind Independent Brewing Company puts together a beer list, we know that they're going to do things right and can order just about everything without regret.
The draft list at Lorelei is no different.
Our first beer was the Reissdorf Kolsch, a house favorite that comes in at an affordable $4. This is a light and refreshing Kolsch that is offered up on Lorelei's Kolsch Service, a feature that mimics the Cologne tradition of the bartender refilling your glass until you put your coaster on top to tell them to stop (be sure to ask about it!).
We had more drinks in mind so we had to pass on the Kolsch Service, but five for $20 did seem quite tempting. We moved on to the Schlenkerla Smoked Helles which picks up its smokey flavor not by the grains being smoked themselves, but by being brewed in a facility that makes other kinds of smoked beers.
Yes, this one picks up the smoke by proxy, and offers a wonderfully smoked flavor without being too overpowering- thus letting some of the subtle lager flavors shine through as well. A must try!
Cocktails at Lorelei
We can safely see returning to this to try all the beers alone, but we also had to make additional visits for the rest of the menu too!
The cocktails at Lorelei follow four distinct styles- Apertif, Citrusy-y, Spirit-Forward, and After-Dinner. Many feature European spirits like Barenjager, Jagermeister, elderflower liquor, Genepy, and more as well (seriously, spend some time ogling the bar, it is beautiful).
For this visit, we were able to sample two, the Friesling (a frozen Riesling with elderflower liquor, apricot, agave, and lemon) as well as the Redhead Swizzle (strawberry-infused Jagermesiter with peach, lime, ginger, pineapple, and bitters).
The Friesling is the perfect cocktail for the summer months as it nice and cold, and the elderflower offers up a nice complement to the Riesling wine.
But it was the Redhead Swizzle that we left talking about, as it is the kind of cocktail that is easily recognizable by its Hidden Harbor-esque flair. This one is a complex and boozy drink that has so many fruit flavors going on that you almost forget for a moment that you're drinking Jager.
So even if you fall into the camp about having a bad experience with Jager in the past, this one will definitely win you back over. (Or if not, more for us!)
Wine at Lorelei
Finally, we come to the wine list at Lorelei. This one features an impressive spread of European wine clustered near the Alps. You'll likely find some from Alsace, France, a few from Italy, perhaps an Austrian or Hungarian, and the styles will run the gamut from styles you've heard of to more unusual ones you've never seen before.
We really love the flight options here as you can work your way around a Riesling, white, or red and taste your way through various grapes. Our Italian Dolcetto was a highlight and was a style we had only tried for the first time at this visit (but now we're hooked). Be sure to look up for wine specials in the cocktail bar side of the space to see if any options are available at a discount as well!
Woodfired by Lorelei Offers a Great Food Menu
For many years, Lorelei offered a pretty strong food menu to go along with their wonderful bar program. But in 2021, they switched things around after acquiring the former Pizza Taglio restaurant space (and wonderful, wonderful wood oven that was found within).
Now the bar offers a delightful pizza menu that stacks up to all of the wonderful things we miss about this once defunct pizza shop.
During our visit, pizzas were 14″ in size and could be a generous portion for one very hungry visitor or easily split between two looking for a lighter meal (or big snack). A few smaller plates are available as well, but the food menu, for now at least, is tilted heavily towards pizza. You'll be hearing no complaints from us.
We were able to try two pies during our visit, a classic Margherita and a more inventive white pizza simply called Peach. This one was loaded up with peaches, coppa secca, gorgonzola, pickled jalapeno, red onions, basil, and Pom molasses to finish it off.
As far as the crust is concerned, Lorelei has nailed the classic Neapolitan style that we love. Thin dough, lightly blackened on the bottom, and with an appropriate amount of toppings on each. The Margherita is the kind of add-on pie we'd order in every meal (it was that good), and the flavors of the Peach were all over the place- in a good way. First, you'd get a hint of sweetness from the peach, then richness from the meat, a slight funk from the cheese, tanginess from the jalapeno, and repeat the process over and over again.
We look forward to what other seasonal pies may come out from this one in the future, and all-around think Lorelei is doing great justice to the memory of our formerly favorite pizza joint.
Overall, Lorelei is a wonderful bar that gets the rare distinction of doing all alcohol menus well. Whether you want cocktails, beer, wine, or simply want to visit for pizza, they really do it all well and, to be quite honest, we need more places like this one in Pittsburgh. That is all there is really left to say.
Lorelei is located at 124 S Highland Avenue in East Liberty. We were invited out by the team at Lorelei for this review, but as always all opinions are our own. We have since visited Lorelei many times on our own expense and have incorporate opinions from those in our review as well.
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