Spotlight on Blue North
NorthLocated minutes from McCandless crossing, Blue North brings you variety, choice and a sense of local comfort. They tout themselves as being an “unpretentious, affordable, great local neighborhood eatery” and it shows. Their combination of locally-sourced produce, sustainable frame of mind and organic practices makes them a good stop for the socially conscious people of the north hills. If you’re just in it for the food, then don’t look away just yet. Blue North works with a farm-to-table approach to get you the freshest food possible. Outside of that, they also strive to find new approaches to the restaurant experience. With great food, an extensive drink collection, and nightly dinner specials, Blue North works to push the envelope on modern American dining.
Brief History of Blue North
The restaurant was purchased by Grainne Trainor, who previously co-owned Mighty Oak Barrel in Oakmont. She purchased her first restaurant (through Specialty Group) just about 15 years ago. When it came time for her to develop a new concept, she called Specialty Group to facilitate her shift to the north hills. Her extensive knowledge of wines is well respected in the Pittsburgh restaurant circles, so she naturally gained attention and momentum when she moved on to create Blue (re-stylized as Blue North). Oak Barrel’s carefully crafted mixture of graceful dining and comfort came with her to Allison Park. In fact, Grainne was one of the first restaurant owners to introduce the concept of wine dinners to the Pittsburgh area. Grainne’s niche and commendable cocktail knowledge made it a perfect fit to launch an independent restaurant in the north hills in its existing sea of chain restaurant options.
Let’s Take a Look at the Menu
With a special place in their hearts for creative comfort foods, Blue North takes American classics and puts them in the experienced hands of their innovative chef Eric. Every item on the menu is made from scratch in-house.
They’ve got a selection of some of your favorite comfort foods with a twist. Selections for starters venture in all directions and the creativity spawns multiple continents. House made sea salt chips are first on their starter menu, served with a chive creme fraiche to satisfy your dipping needs. Sesame Seared Tuna, made with crispy won ton, sriracha aioli, and cucumber salsa, gives you a delectable seafood option to whet your palette. If fish isn’t your thing, then give their Vietnamese Beef Carpaccio with cucumber-celery salad and chili lime vinaigrette a whirl.
Their salads range from one-upped standards to entirely eclectic. The Blue North Caesar gives you a nice tried-and-true staple salad, whereas their strawberry salad brings a salty-and-sweet option into the mix with strawberries, baby arugula, feta and a house rhubarb vinaigrette.
The sandwiches department brings in a house staple. The Blue North House Made Burger, complete with a certified angus brisket, strip and filet blend, local Emerald Farms Braddock swiss, Canadian bacon, grilled tomato, mushrooms and dijonnaise.
Main courses are where they get truly eclectic and creative. Try a cumin dusted duck breast with red rice, cucumber salad, tahini and cured lemon vinaigrette for a palette-sparking duck dish like no other. Classics like New York Strip are given some flair with chive mashed potatoes, baby carrots and Irish Whiskey sauce. If you’re not interested in any form of meat, try their ricotta gnudi with oyster mushrooms, sugar peas, porcini mushroom puree, parmesan chantilly and truffle oil.
We’re Here for the Drinks
Blue North carries a wide selection of beers, cocktails and wines. There is a craft beer selection for everyone, and they come $2 off during happy hour. Make sure to come by during happy hour and order a martini for yet another amazing special. Martinis come in all sorts of flavors, ranging from fruity to coffee flavored, so you’ll find something to your liking.
In addition to their cocktails, wine connoisseur and owner of Blue North Grainne Trainor selects a “Wine of the Year” based on both quality of product and bang for your buck. Give her 2017 choice a chance and your palette won’t be disappointed. Their wine selection outside of the the wine of the year selection is also extensive, with $5 house wines during happy hour. If there’s anything you do at Blue North, it should be to sample some of the great wines that are there for your choosing.
Join in on the Events
You can also join in with the north hills community through their regular events. You can check out their calendar for a breakdown of where and when these special events are taking place. Beginning in April of 2017, Blue North offers cooking classes. These classes are affordable and feature interesting foods that you’re probably not very used to making. If you’re interested in wines, they hold monthly wine tastings featuring wines from different locations. On occasion, Blue North brings special guests over to the restaurant as either entertainment or knowledgeable information. Look out during the holidays for specials and events, which typically feature a uniquely catered menu.
If you’re up in the North Hills, do not miss your chance to check out Blue North! Tell us about your experience in the comments section.