Last Updated on November 4, 2021 by Jeremy
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When we first heard about The Woods House restoration project, our ears perked up. As one of the oldest houses in Pittsburgh (constructed in 1792 by John Woods), we often remarked about how unfortunate it was such a beautiful and historic structure was in a state of disrepair every time we drove by.
When we found out that the restoration project involved turning it into a Scottish pub to honor the history of the early settlers of Hazelwood, we were in. Naturally, we visited The Woods House shortly after it opened to give it a try, and stuffed ourselves full of hearty and traditional pub fare.
Simple and Hearty Scottish Fare at The Woods House
The menu at The Woods House is just what you'd expect from a welcoming Scottish pub. Think hearty dishes like fish & chips, Guinness pot roasts, bangers and mash, and the classic Scotch egg to name a few. These are tried-and-true recipes that stick pretty close to the traditional script of strikingly rich flavors and generous portions.
For our appetizer, we naturally had to go for Scotch eggs. These eggs are wrapped in sausage and deep-fried for a crunchy and decadent starter. The batter on the eggs here were what truly made it as it was thick, we'd go as far as dense even, and offered a really nice contrast to the soft sausage and egg. It was served with a side of brown mustard aioli to offset the otherwise rich dish.
On the entree front, we went with some classics, bangers and mash as well as a Guinness beef stew served pot-pie style. These were every bit the traditional meals we expected. The bangers & mash came with large, sliced sausages resting on top of mashed potatoes and peas and the roast included a hearty sauce made from Guinness and topped with a delightfully tender pastry layer on top.
The focus on traditional recipes should be highlighted once again because these are no-frill dishes that are what you'd expect a Scottish grandparent to make for Sunday dinner- not a chef-driven cuisine in the slightest. In fact, had this pub existed in the 1700s, we wouldn't be surprised if these dishes would've appeared almost exactly the way they were served today. Simple pub fare, hearty, and loaded with meat.
Go in expecting this, and you're going to have a comfort food feast through and through.
Service and Cocktails May Need a Bit of Work
On the beverage front, The Woods House has a modest beer, wine, and even cocktail program with house creations and staples like the Sazerac and Sidecar (which we ordered). We went against our better judgment of sticking to Scottish-style ales, and honestly felt it was a bit of a misstep- partly on our part because the correct answer at a Scottish pub is always Scottish-style beer.
Both of the cocktails we ordered had hints of what you would expect of the two traditional drinks but were not as well balanced as we would like with the Sidecar being especially heavy on citrus fruits- so much so that it almost tasted like an orange martini over the nuanced cocktail we were expecting. As such, on our next visit, we will fix our mistake and stick almost exclusively to the beer program with aligns much better with the food that is being offered anyway.
Beyond this, our only other regret from the meal was that the service was spotty at best. It took quite a long time to order, our servers stopped by sporadically, and we had to go in and ask for things at the bar (like replacement silverware between courses) as a result. We normally overlook minor details like this if they happen once or twice, but here it felt like they were still getting out the kinks with the staff which detracted from our experience a bit. That being said, we thoroughly expect this aspect to improve overtime as well.
Overall, apart from a few minor service issues and the fact that we should've stuck to beer, we quite enjoyed The Woods House and look forward to seeing what they do next. With the historic building beautifully renovated and some hearty and rich Scottish fare at your disposal, it all comes together for an ambiance you can't quite get anywhere else in the city.
The Woods House is located at 4604 Monongahela St in Hazelwood.