Pittsburgh eateries have their own gourmet touch with sliders
Good things can come in small packages — like mini-sandwiches or sliders.
Sports bars have been offering mini-burgers for years, but the slider trend is now getting an gourmet touch at several area restaurants.
They pop up as lunch offerings, appetizers or late-night, after-theater snacks.
The Capital Grille
301 Fifth Ave., Downtown, 412-338-9100 or www.thecapitalgrille.com
The Capital Grille, Downtown, offers an upscale slider option perfect for sharing.
The restaurant's filet slider features Sriracha mayo and pickled onions on a brioche bun ($18 for an order of three). Chef Travis Hall says sliders have been on the menu for about four years, and he's seen an increased interest in the dish as of late.
“For people who come in with a group, it's easy to share, light,” Hall says.
The sliders sit tall on a rectangle plate and feature thick cuts of meat and a pop of purple from the pickled onion. Sriracha — a condiment enjoying worldwide enthusiasm these days — offers a kick to the mayo, which is spread across the meat in a generous dollop.
For anyone seeking a slider with a touch of class, Capital Grille is sure to please.
Cioppino Restaurant and Cigar Bar
2350 Railroad St., Strip District, 412-281-6593 or www.cioppinoofpittsburgh.com
The menu at Cioppino Restaurant and Cigar Bar is always evolving, executive chef Greg Alauzen says.
So, the fact that Pork Sliders ($9) have been a bar-menu staple for more than four years indicates their popularity.
Looking for a new, upscale twist on the old-fashioned pulled-pork sandwich, Alauzen used ingredients such as pork confit, aged white cheddar cheese, house-made cole slaw and small brioche buns.
The secret to their success is in the preparation.
The pork marinates for 24 hours in a mixture of shallots, Dijon mustard, red-wine vinegar and a blend of canola and olive oils, then it is cooked in pork fat before shredding.
Combined with tiny shreds of cabbage, carrots and a sprinkling of parsley, chives, thyme and red-wine vinaigrette, the cheese and pork are piled onto three tiny buns.
”They're a real popular item for sharing,” Alauzen says.
Cabaret Theater and Backstage Bar
655 Penn Ave., Downtown,
412-325-6769 or www.trustarts.org/visit/facilities/backstage/
Sliders seem always to be perched between meals and appetizers.
The Crab Cake Sliders ($14) at the Cabaret Theater and Backstage Bar, Downtown, really do that balancing feat. A serving brings a diner two of the little bunwiches that look almost big enough to be a meal, but don't have the heft of a burger. Yet the pair and the chips with them are filling — for a couple of hours.
Sizeable or not, they are tasty. Topped with sweet-and-sour slaw and a touch of remoulade, the sliders have a light taste and don't sit heavily after eating.
Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse
247 North Shore Drive, North Shore,
412-222-4014 or www.hydeparkrestaurants.com
You would expect a fine-dining restaurant like Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse to have a top-of-the-line slider. And they do. In fact, they have two. The first is a dry-aged sirloin and the other is a filet slider.
The dry-aged sirloin option is topped with shredded Tillamook cheddar, spicy aioli, a Roma tomato and bread-and-butter pickle piled high on a freshly baked and buttered brioche bun.
The tenderloin filet choice is complemented with horseradish cream sauce and arugula on the freshly baked and buttered brioche bun. Both have an olive on top and are served with hand-cut french fries and an individual bottle of Heinz ketchup.
The sliders are an item on the bar menu. They cost $7.50 for two sliders, $5 during happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and from 9 p.m. to close.
What makes these sliders different is the quality of the meat, general manager Ken Macieski says. They are extremely popular with guests before or after Pirates and Steelers games because the stadiums are so close to the restaurant. Customers often split several appetizers, and the sliders are a perfect choice because there are two of them.
“When customers come to a steakhouse, they want the freshest and best meat,” Macieski says. “We pride ourselves in using the freshest ingredients in everything we serve, from a full-course meal of steak to an appetizer of sliders. The meat on these sliders is really juicy.”
McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant
301 Fifth Ave, Downtown, 412-201-6992; 2667 Sidney St., South Side, 412-432-3260; or www.mccormickandschmicks.com
During happy hour at McCormick & Schmick's — with locations in the South Side and Downtown — diners dig the Chicken Sliders, available only 5 to 7 p.m. daily for $3.99.
An order of the popular sliders offers three mini burger buns filled with chicken breasts cut to size, coated in parmesan cheese and topped with homemade pomodoro sauce.
Kristin Frazier, general manager of the McCormick & Schmick's at Southside Works, says the restaurant switches its menu quarterly, so it may offer another kind of slider soon; only one kind of slider will be on the menu at a time. Before the chicken sliders, the restaurant offered Kobe beef sliders.
Mitchell's Fish Market
185 W. Waterfront Drive, Homestead, 412-476-8844 or www.mitchellsfishmarket.com
Giant fried fish sandwiches are kind of a big thing around here, but there's no reason tiny fish sandwiches can't exist as well. Mitchell's Fish Market, a small-ish national chain with a location at The Waterfront in Homestead, carries out this deceptively simple task with aplomb.
They serve Crab Cake Sliders ($10.29), which are pretty much exactly what you'd expect, and something called “Codwich” Sliders ($8.99), which are a little bit of fried-fish-on-Friday-night heaven, served in smaller doses. Two sliders with crispy fried cod hanging out the sides are served with shredded lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese and tartar sauce.
You'll think you were in a church basement, for just a second. Instead, though, you can leave the dark woods and dim lighting of the restaurant and sit on the back porch, watching the Mon flow slowly by, and eat a couple fish sliders.