5-28-16 / Poros / Pittsburgh, PA

Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of joining an old coworker down in Market Square for lunch. We chose Poros, a new restaurant in the Y Group (which includes Perle, Ceviche, Nola, and Sonoma). It was a beautiful day, so they opened up all of the exterior walls to their patio area. They’ve got an open floor plan, so it made for a bit of confusion (walking through the dining area) to get to the hostess stand, not a huge deal at all. Right behind the hostess stand is a huge deli case filled with all sorts of fresh seafood (I saw a few fish, shrimp, and clams). It really adds to the authenticity that this is fresh-caught seafood you’re about to enjoy. We chose to sit outside and enjoy the weather in anticipation of this great meal. It did not disappoint. The prices are extremely affordable, but I can only speak for the lunch offerings. I will definitely return to try dinner. I chose the three course tasting lunch for $19.

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To start off, I chose the baba ghanoush, tzatziki, and homemade pita. The baba ghanoush was an extremely garlicky but obviously homemade version of the traditional pureed eggplant dip. The house-made pita had a very strong chickpea flavor, so I’m thinking they’ve got chickpeas actually blended into the dough itself. They were nicely herbed and sprinkled with sea salt and provided a nice vehicle for the baba ghanoush. Of note were the pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top of the baba ghanoush, which I’ve never seen before in my Mediterranean eating. I asked the waiter about it, but he was unable to provide much background or guidance as to why the sweet seeds would be sprinkled on top of such a savory spread.

There were also two slices of grilled wheat bread underneath the four pieces of pita which provided a nice textural break from all of the soft pita and dips. The bread was simple, crusty, and dressed with a nice light olive oil. It paired beautifully with the bright and creamy tzatziki sauce. Far thicker than I’m used to, it was more like a dip than a sauce as I’m used to with tzatziki. It also had some kind of grain within it which I couldn’t place, that added mostly texture (and difficulty with dipping) than flavor. It was quite a large portion for an individual appetizer course, but it was all delicious, so I’m not complaining.

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For my main course, I chose the fish of the day, which was an Arctic Char. Seemingly identical with salmon in preparation, flavor, texture, and consistency, so much to the point that I asked the waiter if this was, in fact, salmon, but he assured me it wasn’t. The only obvious difference I could tell was that the skin was more of a copper brown color than the silver I’m familiar with in salmon. Confusion aside, it was an outstanding piece of fish. Extremely moist, flavorful, and mild in its fishiness, it was cradled wonderfully by the cracker crispy skin. It was served atop a mixture of roasted cauliflower, a mediterranean bean salad with cannellini beans and house-cured black olives, and a roasted chickpea spread. It all worked together very nicely, the bright acidity of the salad paired with the vinegary olives, the smooth earthy spread, and the earthy creaminess of the cauliflower with the piece of fish shining above and beyond as the star of the dish. An excellent plate from a restaurant touting to specialize in Mediterranean Seafood.

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My third course choice was the Baklava Ice Cream. There seemed to be some confusion in the kitchen as to whether or not the freezer was working, so we’d “resigned” ourselves to greek yogurt, honey, and walnuts, but were pleasantly surprised when this arrived instead. Unfortunately after tasting, the surprise lost some of its appeal. The cinnamon-based ice cream was creamy and delicious, but unfortunately the honey-coated pieces of phyllo dough within the ice cream itself turned soggy. I would have much rather been served a “deconstructed” baklava ice cream, with their tasty cinnamon ice cream, walnuts, and honey, with the tasty and fresh-fried phyllo dough served on top. Nonetheless, it was only a small misstep in an otherwise excellent meal.

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