Saturday, March 3, 2007

Fat Head's South Side Saloon, Pittsburgh

After a grueling day of work-related travel and niceties, my associates and I rolled into Fat Head’s South Side Saloon on Pittsburgh’s Carson Avenue, a half dozen blocks south of the Monongahela River. Carson Avenue is a charming, dense, and long row of Victorian buildings, now in the midst of Sisyphean gentrification efforts, as represented by today’s subject, FHSSS. (Pittsburgh and Cleveland give challenge to Christopher Hitchens’ proclamation that Britain leads the world in decline.)

As much as I love exploring L.A.’s endless ethnic warrens, not one of these is the original warren I grew up exploring in my native Cleveland, namely Rust Belt Eastern European. Los Angeles has no West Side Market and no Balaton--with its winter-soothing huge plates of crispy wiener schnitzel, thick artery-damming spätzle (and not that hyper-refined version one gets at Wallsé while someone else orders hamachi), and viscous, literally claret red Hungarian wine.

So after two days in Las Vegas, a red eye to National, five stops in route to Baltimore, then stops in Frederick, Md., York and Lancaster, Pa. culminating in a late madcap dash to a frigid Pittsburgh, it was a great relief, if not to be home in Cleveland, then in the next best thing: Cleveland’s ancient fraternal rival.

At 11pm, FHSSS possessed the infinite wisdom to serve a grilled kielbasa sandwich topped with grilled salami, sauerkraut, and dark brown mustard along with freshly made potato chips with their endless variations of crispiness and softness, all welcomed and appreciated. For a beer drinker, FHSSS is Edenic, not least for being the only bar I’ve visited outside of Cleveland that sells the noble Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. With a 4 am wakeup call looming, FHSSS’s sustenance could not have been more timely.

Fat Head's South Side Saloon
1805 East Carson Street
(412) 431-7433

No comments: