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Something good is brewing at Homestead 'gastropub'

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Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009

Blue Dust, at first, seems like it took a wrong turn on the way to Lawrenceville, and got lost out here in between the massive national chain restaurants of the Waterfront and the few crumbling dives left on the main drag in Homestead.

But once you settle in, it becomes clear that this is the kind of place Homestead needs, and deserves. Blue Dust is a family-owned bar/restaurant with great food and even better beer -- that's unabashedly proud of its neighborhood, which was once the vast, beating heart of the American steel industry.

Even the name comes from a byproduct of steelmaking.

"It just had a more mystical ring to it than 'The Slag Iron Inn' or 'The Potash Pub,'" owner Jerry Miller says.

Although there's plenty of competition for one's drinking and dining dollar nearby, Miller thinks he has found a niche.

"We're calling it 'Homestead's first gastropub' -- more of a gourmet pub," he says. "No hamburgers or french fries, because, well, why• You go across the tracks in the Waterfront, and I'd say there's at least seven places where that's their main thing."

Instead, Blue Dust features hearty, filling fare that's a cut above typical bar food.

"We have a rather large smoker in the back," Miller says. "We use a lot of wood. Most places will smoke (meat) and slather on the sauce. We do more of a refined smoking method and let you put on the sauce if you feel like it really needs it.

"Our Smoked Brisket Sandwich ($7.95) is probably the number-one seller. Or our Homestead Surf and Turf ($9.95), which is half a sandwich of smoked brisket and half a sandwich of sauteed crab meat, on local bread baked up in Squirrel Hill."

There's plenty of classic bar food, like Fried Zucchini ($6.95), BBQ Drumsticks ($4.50) and a truly outstanding Artichoke Dip ($6.95), as well as a few curveballs, like the Orchard Salad ($8.95), featuring locally grown mixed greens topped with apple slices, candied almonds, ginger-mango Stilton cheese and a framboise vinaigrette.

To keep everything as fresh as possible, Miller is trying to rely on local sourcing for many ingredients.

"I'm trying to do as much as I can," he says. "My brother-in-law grows all our greens and whatever he can during the course of the year. Except for December through February, he can supply us with some goodies pretty much year round."

The bar features a beautiful hand-tiled mosaic, done by Miller's daughter, and striking prints of old steelworks on the walls. Shockingly, the jukebox seems to be stocked with more than just classic rock.

Blue Dust also features an impressive beer selection, with 26 beers on draft, and heavy on the microbrews.

"I like all of the Sierra Nevada line, the Bell line. The East End Brewing Company products (made in Homewood/Point Breeze) are always delicious. We had a big beer dinner with (brewer Scott Smith) and six of his beers last week."

Miller's beer knowledge is fairly extensive, so feel free to ask him for a recommendation.

"I've been a general manager of a master (beer) distributing company in years gone by," he says. "I was the one who started bringing in a lot of these microbrews. I'm a home-brewer, and a certified beer judge. I want to bring good taste to people."

Additional Information:

Blue Dust

Location: 601 Amity St., Homestead

Hours: 11:37 a.m. to 1:37 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; opens at 11:37 a.m. Sundays (closing time varies); closed Mondays

Details: 412-461-6220

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