Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bill's Bar & Burger (and Broccoli)

As of today, the end of the Cultural District is now capped off with a New York favorite, Bill's Bar & Burger (1000 Liberty Avenue, 15222).* Bill's is housed in the former Original Fish Market, albeit Bill's has nothing reminiscent of its predecessor (other than the sushi, but we will get to that shortly).

It's a sleeker, hipper, more colorful space than I expected; one can observe a tasteful, yet safe blend of clean lines, black and white subway tiling, stainless steel, natural light, and original artwork. There's plenty of dining space, a large bar for the happiest of hours, and a private meeting/dining room; a walk-up sidewalk take-out counter is in the works. There is ample parking in The Westin Convention Center garage as well as valet.

Famous for its craft burgers, Bill's offers a full menu to Pittsburgh that features the most basic, yet treasured American cuisine (i.e. burgers, shakes, hot dogs, deep fried potatoes, etc.), with its own unique twists and turns; yet, the menu is locally personalized featuring authentic Matt Lieu sushi from Original Fish Market, local beers, the Kielbasa Dog ($12, Smoked Silver Stark Kielbasa, spaghetti squash kraut, spicy horseradish, soft pretzel bun, house made chips), Iron City Fondue ($9, Iron City Beer, local cheddar, whole grain mustard, soft pretzels, kilebasa), Frickles and Pickles ($6, fried Pittsburgh Pickle Co. dill pickles, banana peppers, ranch), a Dark Chocolate Klondike Bar Smash, and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bomb shake ($6, Clark Bar, chocolate ice cream, spiced peanuts). Even Bill's hand-cut fries have been revamped specifically to Pittsburghers' preference.**

At the media tasting I attended last Friday, I tried the Mini B's ($10 for 3 sliders with caramelized onion, cheese, Heinz ketchup, mustard, special sauce, Pittsburgh Pickle Co. pickles), the Fat Cat ($9, "2013 CNN Top 10 Burger Award" winner with caramelized onion, American cheese on an English muffin), Bill's Crispy Fries ($4), Charred Broccoli ($6), and the Cherry Pop Tart ($6, vanilla ice cream); all were paired with a nice Malbec, of course.

Everything was delicious, including the Charred Broccoli (and I don't even like broccoli). One bite of the burgers, and it's clear why they're so decorated with awards and recognition; the praise is warranted. My recommendation would be to try the quintessential Bill's menu items on your initial visit; then on your return visit (because I'm pretty confident that you will want to return), get touristy and try the items specific to the Pittsburgh location's menu.*** Either way, you should have a great experience!

Lastly, it must be noted that the Bill's Bar & Burger people are very committed to getting involved locally with charitable events and with featuring local artists and musicians. Every member of their team of whom I was privileged to meet was warm, friendly, and truly believed in this new Pittsburgh venture. Who's more appropriate for "Pittsburgh" than that?

Lunch, Monday–Sunday: 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Dinner, Monday–Friday: 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Dinner, Saturday & Sunday: 5 p.m. – 12 a.m.

Bill's Bar & Burger on Urbanspoon

*Sadly, Bill isn't a real person. The alliteration in the name is much appreciated though.
**I had to chuckle when the CEO mentioned that his "research" (time spent here, immersed in our scene) determined Pittsburghers to be quite specific about our fries. I agree... I mean, where else are fries as much of an amusement park attraction as the roller coasters, on top of (pun intended) being the universal topping for sandwiches and salads?
***I do love that I can be a tourist in my own city. Sometimes the best things about any given city are the least appreciated by its residents, right? 

Monday, April 20, 2015

His Majesty

In order to prevent spam from being published on The Steel Trap, I moderate the comments. I'll get an email when a comment is made, and I can either click "publish," "delete" or "spam." This little nugget of joy was in my inbox recently:

"Hapreet Anderson has left a new comment on your post "Things I Learned From My Ex(es) Part 3":

I am sharing about my experience and testimony online in search of a spell caster that will restore my marriage and make me live a happy life. I was introduced to a spell caster by my neighbor and i contact him. to my greatest surprise i never though that there was going to be a real spell caster for me but i was amazed when i met a real one in the person of His Majesty, HIGH PRIEST OZIGIDIDON who helped in in bring back my man and making me have a happy marriage and home and also help in restoring back my job and life and sincerely it is to numerous for me to mention, i just can't thank him more that enough for all he has done but i want to sincerely thank him for restoring my hope that there are still real spell casters out there. Indeed he is so real and true to his job. i am glad i met him and i will hold him in high esteem till i leave this earth. Your HIGHNESS i will never let you go you are my foundation. High priest can be gotten on i know when you contact him and he worked for you, you will definitely come back to thank me. high priest is so great and powerful.. i have lost the adjective to classify him."

Here are my thoughts regarding this unintentionally comedic comment, which [SPOILER ALERT] I totally published: 
  1. What exactly is a "spell caster"? I looked to Wikipedia (so I would know it was true), and came up with nothing. I then looked to Urban Dictionary (second best primary resource after Wikipedia), and it says that a spell caster is the politically correct way of calling someone a witch. Done! That's what I am using! 
  2. Hapreet Anderson seems to have fallen on some really tough times. In addition to needing a "spell caster," Harpreet needs a spell checker. 
  3. I am not sure if it's "OZIGIDIDON" or if it's "oziigididon" as both spellings appear in the comment. Clearly this will create some confusion when writing out the check for his unparalleled restorative services. Maybe I can just make it out to "His Majesty." 
  4. My friend LF wondered if we should actually commission him for a spell. She did some research and, "other spell casters that seem promising can be found here: I have already inquired on Po Sun's Black Magic Love Spell and Pei Lin's Lottery Spell."
  5. Does "His Majesty" know Harry Potter? Did he go to Hogwarts? If so, was he Slytherin and what were his scores on his N.E.W.T. and O.W.L. assessments? This is all extremely important. 
  6. The point of the "Things I Learned From My Ex(es)" posts was to express the humor, poignancy, and/or lessons that resulted from all of my relationships over the years; I did not realize that I may have been projecting a cry for spiritual help from "His Majesty." 
  7. Holding someone in "high esteem" till you "leave this earth" is a very serious declaration. 
  8. Switching point of view to second person and directly addressing "His Majesty" in the comment (to me no less) is an interesting persuasive method, "Your HIGHNESS i will never let you go you are my foundation."
  9. "i have lost the adjective to classify him" is my new favorite sentence of all time. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Sixteen thoughts and ideas on the sixteenth of April...
As captured on the streets of South Side Works (photo credit: JRT)
  1. In reference to the picture above, what in tarnation is a "sexy bathroom"? I feel like this is an SNL sketch waiting to happen. Maybe I will be a sexy bathroom for Halloween. Hmmmmm. 
  2. I feel really badly for Bruce Jenner. Not only did he marry Kris Kardashian but now his gender transformation is the most interesting thing in America. So sad. 
  3. What was once thought to be ring worm, then what was once thought to be nummular eczema, is now a legitimate mystery. I'm waiting for biopsy results and have three lovely stitches in my neck. For all of the joking I did last spring about ring worm, I am now very concerned. My affliction is on my chest, my neck, my elbows, and my face. I am constantly uncomfortable. It's not good. 
  4. I have decided to paint my guest room a shade of pale blue with white trim; I decided to go with a daybed, a chair, an armoire, and a nightstand as the furniture. I'm going to use an area rug that I already have as well as curtains that I have from a previous abode. Once track & field season is over, it's going all happening! 
  5. I haven't seen a single new episode of Mad Men yet. Clearly I need to make this a priority.  
  6. I decided to read 1984 again (I never finished it the first time) and I couldn't be more terrified at how closely we live to what Orwell imagined. #bigbrother 
  7. Speaking of books, I am currently waiting by the front door for the mailwoman to deliver the third book in the Child 44 trilogy because I cannot get enough of Soviet Russian drama. 
  8. My goal is to read double the amount of books that I read in Year 34. So far, I am on a significant roll. Like butter. 
  9. The Orange Edition Red Bull... is so tasty. Yes, I know it is horrible for my body. But it tastes so good. Once it touches your lips...  
  10. The summer camp in this article: "New TV series 'Outsiders' to be filmed in Monroeville park." Yeah, I've worked there since 2001. It's a pretty great place.   
  11. Hilary.  
  12. I went to a Candyland themed birthday party on Sunday afternoon. Kids were all hopped up on sugar and clearly suffering from over-stimulation; the best part was the moment when I looked over at the bounce house to see a girl throwing the life-size Candyland colored game spaces (foam wrapped in colored paper) in the air while furiously bouncing up and down just as another girl took one of game spaces and pummeled another child with it. Hilarious. 
  13. The top ten movie monologues of all time? 
  14. Someone put together a montage of Century III Mall memories.  What would I pay for that iconic tall sculpture (3:52 in the video)? A lot of money. I did go back to Century III not too long ago and did a final lap, taking some pictures and pausing every so often to let memories tug on my heartstrings. That's a blog post waiting to happen I suppose. 
  15. This is the feel good story of my week. Wow.  
  16. The newest Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer. Oh man. Oh man. Oh Wookiee. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bill's Burger & Bar Is Big News!

I've got big news Pittsburgh! Bill’s Bar & Burger (1001 Liberty Avenue at Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh) is opening this Wednesday (04/22), in the former Original Fish Market location. This Friday (04/17), I will be going for a preview experience and I cannot wait to share my review with you! 

Bill’s began in New York City in 2009 and became a favorite spot of both burger junkies and locals alike. Known for its mouthwatering, classic burgers and comfort foods, Bill's boasts three other locations in New York City and one in Atlantic City. According to MSN’s The 101 Best Burgers in America, “the meat is loosely packed and just crumbly enough, super-juicy and the whole creation is simple, beefy, cheesy goodness, with a squirt of secret sauce to top it off. After a night on the town, one of these burgers just might be the most satisfying thing on earth.” 

But what about the Pittsburgh version of this NYC spot? 

Well, our Bill's Bar & Burger will have a 250-seat dining room, a 40-seat private dining area, a large bar with lounge seating and a seated sushi bar; our location will showcase a well-rounded menu (burgers, fries, and shakes) with a “Pittsburgh twist,” including: Iron City Fondue, Frickles and Peppers (featuring Pittsburgh Pickle Company pickles), Dark Chocolate Klondike Bar Smash, and a Pittsburgh sushi roll (Sushi Chef Matt Lieu, formerly of the Original Fish Market, has joined the team and will continue to make his signature creations here in the 'Burgh.)! 

Behind the scenes, Bill’s Corporate Executive Chef Ivy Stark, a graduate of the Institute for Culinary Education, has an intriguing history. He is ranked among New York’s top chefs and has been consistently featured on national and local TV broadcasts including the Today Show, CBS Early Show, ABC News, and WABC-TV. Chef Stark is also the author of two cookbooks, is a Food Network regular, and a guest judge on Beat Bobby Flay. In addition, Clare Lise, Executive Chef for Bill’s Pittsburgh, has honed her culinary chops from the Mon Valley to Maui. With a degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania Academy of Culinary Arts, Chef Lise has shared her love of cooking and developed menus both seasonal and creative. Most recently, at Pittsburgh’s Diamond Market Bar and Grill, she introduced a menu that consisted of in house smoked meats and fishes, burgers and house made soups, sauces and fries.

Lastly, and most interestingly about the entire Bill's concept, is a unique rotating art display featuring emerging artists. Glenn Fischer and Pittsburgh’s own Deanna Mance and Aimee Manion will be represented in the inaugural display; Bill’s commitment to supporting art is part of its philosophy and BR Guest Hospitality is pleased to foster the work of local, regional and national artists. I am 800% sure that Pittsburghers are going to be very thrilled with this highlight! 

Look back to The Steel Trap within the next week for a full review (with pictures of course) of my experience! 

Afternoon Commute

Because I love the Fast & Furious movies so much, seeing Furious 7 was a legitimate priority of mine. After a week of waiting, I finally saw Furious 7 on Friday night. It was everything I had hoped it would be... and more. It inspired laughter, clapping, and tears. Yes, so many tears. Why? Without giving away any spoilers, here is the best song from the movie's soundtrack... you'll see why. It's beautiful and sentimental and damn near perfect. RIP Paul Walker.

Song: "See You Again"
Artist: Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth