Last Updated on July 14, 2020 by Angie
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Scratch in Troy Hill is a neighborhood bar and restaurant serving up, as you might expect, tons of scratch made sandwiches, entrees, salads, cocktails, and more. It's the little details here like house fermented shrubs, pickles, and sauces that add up to make each drink or entree more than the sum of its parts.
Scratch is True to Its Name
We love the menu at Scratch because it includes classics and comfort foods done right (like burgers, hoagies, and reubens), but also ventures out into some less explored territory like vegan burritos, banh mi sandwiches, and other vegetarian and vegan dishes. There are also daily specials like Tuesday night wings and Thursday night poutine.
We totally geek out over fermented veggies and shrubs, so we absolutely adore that Scratch ferments their own veggies, sauerkraut, and pickles, as well as shrubs for use in cocktails. Many of the dishes and drinks at Scratch owe their complex and intriguing flavors to these fermented goodies.
On our recent visit we tried the chicken gams sandwich complete with pulled chicken thigh, pickles, red onions, blue cheese, barbecue sauce, and brioche. We had our choice of BBQ sauce- white, house, or “screaming,” and naturally we opted for screaming. The meatiness of the chicken thigh was balanced by the tanginess of the pickles and onions, while the hot sauce perfectly complemented the rich blue cheese. We also ordered a side of fries that came with a nice and garlicky aioli.
We also wanted to try some of the vegetarian and vegan options on the menu, so we ordered “A Reason to Try Zhug” which was a vegan entree including fermented veggies, rice, pita, tahini, zhug, and harissa. I love dishes like this because you can choose your own adventure with each bite – in this case, by piling different sauces and fillings on each bite of pita. The tangy crispness of the fermented veggies combined nicely with the nutty tahini, smokey harissa, and bright, spicy, herbal zhug. We really loved the freshness and lingering spiciness of the zhug sauce.
We also ordered the “Ok Zoomer” side dish mostly for the intriguing name but it turned out to be equally intriguing on the palate. Fermented veggies, several different kinds of mushrooms, rice, and creme fraiche were all mixed together to create something akin to an amped up and tastier version of a mushroom rice casserole from our childhood.
Don't Miss Their Impressive Bar Program Either
And if the food menu isn't enough to get you here, the cocktail list should be- house-made shrubs with interesting flavor combinations like lime-peppercorn or poblano-ginger add complexity to many of the drinks.
On our recent visit we tried the honeysuckle old fashioned which was surprisingly floral (a bit too floral for my tastes but Jeremy really enjoyed it), and the beet-serrano margarita which blew our minds with a combination of tequila, a beet-serrano shrub, lemon, and lime. It was so well-balanced with just enough heat, a hint of earthiness and sweetness from the beets, and a pleasant touch of acidity from the shrub and citrus. Delicious!
Scratch is the kind of place that has the vibe of a neighborhood joint but with much more interesting, creative, and flavorful food and drinks than you've likely ever had at any other neighborhood joint. It's the kind of restaurant that we keep coming back to and enjoying time after time!
Scratch is located at 1720 Lowrie Street in Troy Hill.
Looking for more restaurants nearby? Check out Umami Pittsburgh and Morcilla 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!