Update: Since publishing this post Scratch has changed chefs. As such, we cannot guarantee menu continuity from our review.
With all of the recent hype surrounding the Troy Hill neighborhood, it would be easy for a new neighborhood restaurant like Scratch to cater to the current growth a bit too much and provide food and drinks that residents aren't quite ready for. However, Scratch has done a good job of creating a space and a menu that seem to appeal to both long time neighborhood residents as well as the newer, younger residents moving in.
Local Beer and Spirits; Well-Crafted Cocktails
The tap list at Scratch is one of the highlights of this spot as it features many local beers and ciders from places like Arsenal, Apis, East End, and Helltown to name a few. The bar is also well-stocked with local spirits from distillers like Maggie's and Wigle, thus completing its Pittsburgh arsenal. The drink menu is solid with several barrel-aged cocktails and different housemade shrubs that add zing to their recipes. All of these seemingly trendy characteristics belie the very reasonable drink prices of about $5-7 per cocktail.
We tried a handful of different cocktails, but our favorite was the Jack Straw made with an apple cinnamon shrub, Apple Jack, and a ginger liqueur. I love the slight sourness and tang that shrubs have, and this shrub was no exception. The ginger liqueur was also intensely gingery and kept the drink from being too sweet. Although Scratch's cocktails are not as potent on the alcohol as some other bars, for the price we certainly cannot complain in the slightest.
Just be sure to give them a good mix before you start drinking (trust us on this!).
Sandwiches and Comfort Food with a Twist
The food menu at Scratch has plenty of comfort food options like haluski, burgers, tomato pie, a gourmet Reuben, beef cheek stroganoff, and stuffed peppers- but with twists and housemade touches to keep things interesting and flavorful.
In addition to the regular burger, there is a daily special Scratch burger. On our visit it came topped with cheese, bacon, and fried green tomatoes. Scratch is one of the few places in the city where I've ordered a burger medium and it came out like it should with pink in the middle. The housemade ketchup was fruity and delicious, perfect for the super crispy and well-seasoned French fries. Housemade pickles on the side were sweet and crunchy with a hint of spiciness.
As we're on a quest to find the best reuben in Pittsburgh, we had to try one here. Their version of the Reuben was a bit different from a traditional one with beef tongue instead of corned beef and a pickled beet kraut instead of a cabbage sauerkraut. Although these components weren't traditional, the sandwich was downright delicious with the beef tongue providing a richness and smokiness and the beet kraut bringing some sweetness and tartness you'd expect out of a well made Reuben.
Overall, Scratch is a welcomed addition to the food scene in Troy Hill, and is an encouraging sign on what is to come in this growing neighborhood north of the city.
Scratch is located at 1720 Lowrie Street in Troy Hill.
Looking for more restaurants nearby? Check out Umami Pittsburgh, Morcilla, and Pusadee's Garden in Lawrenceville or Max's Allegheny Tavern in the North Side! Or, for more reviews of Pittsburgh restaurants, click the previous link to be taken to our directory of every review on Discover the Burgh!
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