In Pittsburgh – life is interesting; we grow up learning English but also understanding Pittsburghese. We are surrounded with a dialect that reverberates between a language and a way of life. Like many communities in Europe, they too understand English but choose to converse in their native tongue. So in Pittsburgh we experience the same thing – we understand Pittsburghese yet none of us will ever dare speak it.
When I heard of this new restaurant - J’eet Cafe – nestled in Upper Lawrenceville across from Children’s Hospital, I was unsure. I envisioned some ungodly mixture of hipster and yinzer – akin to a modern art gallery inside a steel mill. What I found instead of J’eet was a steady coffeeshop and to-go hotspot with a coffee bar and wooden benches and chairs. Sporting a flaky crust of slightly bohemian fast paced atmosphere, J’eet also includes a creamy middle of original space and décor. I even overheard that J’eet had an outdoor deck and free wi-fi. Of course in March to eat outside in Pittsburgh, one would need to sport most of the following*: a babushka, a bumbershoot, and rubbers.
J’eet’s commitment to an original menu was very apparent. With a complement of bagel sandwiches, desserts and specialties; the decor was simple, refined and fresh. The murals and bright colors contrasted well against the overcast Pittsburgh day. With a warm atmosphere and fogged up windows, J’eet’s décor did something to brighten up our miserable Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Looking around, I saw all sorts of unique dishes – with paninis and club sandwiches and signature crêpes. I would venture to say that it’s not that difficult to make a good crêpe or sandwich, but just as I’m easily satisfied with quality ingredients and originality, this is where J’eet scores high marks. J’eet’s crêpe selection provided far more than something to keep a palate happy between sips of coffee. I would suggest trying out any of their signature crêpes.
My two compatriots this time around, I’ll introduce them as Carl and Ritter — For lack of better names — joined me on my stop this week. (Happy Birthday Ritter!!) It was a very busy afternoon and Carl ordered the California Club – a manly sandwich which sported avocado, carrot, red onion and crimini mushroom all on country seed bread.
And while I attempted to slay the Veggie Monster – a salad with kidney beans, avocado, chickpeas, tomato, onion, carrots and hard boiled eggs, Ritter ordered the Brentwood Bagel Sandwich – avocado, apple wood smoked bacon, smoked cheddar, and fried egg on a bagel.
I would like to say that I’m not a negative person. Restaurants’ quirks should not dissuade anyone from visiting. That being said, J’eet has some problem solving to do before I can give it a TableforOne stamp of approval.
What J’eet reminds me of is going on a first date with that sweet blonde haired girl who lives on your block. When you walk past her she charms you with her wit and appearance. Then once you meet up with her you realize she is not a Steelers fan and it breaks your heart to know that she cannot be yours, at least for now. She was everything you wanted to see, but when you met the truth, a part of you lost hope.
As the prices at J’eet are extremely reasonable, the portion on the bagel sandwich was very small. The veggie monster was not as great as its moniker – I was underwhelmed enough that I could have slain this creature with a wet straw wrapper and a plastic fork. As I was hoping to be surprised at what J’eet could offer me, I was let down by the Veggie Monster’s simplicity and appearance. Speaking of surprised, in fact the Brentwood Bagel Sandwich was missing one of the ingredients! (Chefs take heed, when a menu says fried egg; include the fried egg.)
Our dessert however – The Terrapin – a delightful filled crêpe — was a rousing success. The cream cheese offered richness and body while the glorious handful of decadent caramelized walnuts gave winter a swift kick in the can. A smooth caramel glaze and runny nutella rounded off the ingredients on this highly desirable dessert. Frankly, it was better than any of the crêpes I previously had at Paris66 and everyone should in fact try this.
The small issues I had with J’eet became a larger impression once I boiled them all down. If you are going to open up a Pittsburgh restaurant, you will need at least to offer iced tea (a Pittsburgh staple) to those dining at your bistro. At J’eet, drinks also will not include ice. In addition to service a trifle below average, the waitress either was oblivious to the fact that water glasses should never be empty, or there is a tap water shortage I’m unaware of. Either way, I found it unacceptable that I was parched most of my meal.
Would I go back again? Strangely, yes. I shouldn’t put all of J’eet’s eggs in one basket as J’eet is still in its nascent existence on Penn Ave. Pittsburgh wasn’t built in a day and neither was J’eet. Even though this review had some negative connotations – I think J’eet needs to work harder on finding what it is. Did I J’eet jet? Yes. And so should you – I would love to hear your feedback to verify or disprove my observations.
- Babushka –that headscarf thing older yinzers wear around their heads in a Pittsburgh winter.
- Bumbershoot – an umbrella.
- Rubbers –your galoshes or those things kids wear when it’s slippy aht or when they walk in the crick. No its not what you thought, ya jagoff.
Where is J’eet Cafe?
4200 Penn Avenue (map)
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
When are they open?
Try your best to figure it out…
Lunch: Mon – Fri from 7am – 9pm (on Facebook)
Dinner: Sat – Sun from 11am – 3pm (on Facebook)
Kitchen opens Mon – Fri from 11am-9pm (on Facebook)
The kitchen is closed at 3pm from Sun – Wed (on website)
But the kitchen remains open for dinner until 9pm Thurs – Sat (on website)
Or, maybe you should plan on calling ahead to make sure.
Where are they on the web?