It’s here! It’s FINALLY here! The Ace Hotel is open in Pittsburgh! Oh… you thought I was celebrating the arrival of my 12th and final Plates of Pittsburgh of 2015? Well, that too. Lots to celebrate with this post so let’s get cracking.
The Ace Hotel announced plans for a Pittsburgh location what seems like eons ago, and it finally opened its historic doors on December 10. I think it goes without saying that a place called ACE would be on the top of the to-do list of a certain magician that I know. We decided to check it out the Monday after they opened and made our way to East Liberty, which has quickly become one of the city’s hotspots for retail and dining. The Ace Hotel is located inside of an old YMCA and the designers stayed very true to the vast majority of original architecture and detail. A pleasant, kind doorman greeted us and led us into the main lobby of the hotel. After you enter the main doors on Whitfield Street, the bar is to your right and the restaurant, Whitfield, is to your left. The hostess greeted us promptly and gave us a table for two. I was actually surprised that we got a table so quickly, given the buzz surrounding this new venture, but I guess the fact that it was a Monday really worked in our favor.
Our waitress, Angel, was over shortly after we were seated and offered us water and made a few notes about the menu. We decided to start with the gnocchi appetizer ($15) upon a recommendation from a friend who now works for the hotel. For our entrees, I ordered the smoked chicken ($28) and Lee ordered “The Steak” ($21), which is the chef’s choice of cut for the day, which on this particular day was a sirloin. We also decided to really go for the carbs and order a side of the bacon mac and cheese ($6). Carbs don’t count on Mondays, right?
Our gnocchi showed up super fast which was great because I don’t usually wait til 8:45pm to eat dinner 🙂 The dish was absolutely fantastic, I almost wanted a giant bowl of it as my meal! It felt like a homey, warm stew that you’d eat on a cold winter day. But instead of chicken or beef, it was kicked up a notch with tender rabbit meat! The gnocchi was perfect to share, and each bite was better than the last. The dish contains beans which I’m usually not a fan of, but I found myself picking each and every last one out of the bowl!
Angel cleared our appetizer plates and a few minutes later a gentleman brought out our entrees. The portion sizes are superb – my chicken was $28 but that got me a full, juicy, smoked chicken breast with the crispiest, most flavorful skin. It was served over a stick-to-your-ribs mix of dumplings and gravy and a side of shaved brussels sprouts. You won’t find any of those teensy tiny snack size portions that a lot of the trendy restaurants are serving now. Whitfield puts a healthy helping on your plate, and once you let the flavors soak in, you’ll be glad that they do.
Lee’s steak, ordered medium, was served with a side of fries and a béarnaise sauce. The béarnaise was excellent and I’d recommend it as a sauce pairing with any of the steaks on their menu. It’s worth nothing that in addition to The Steak, they offer a variety of other cuts of beef that are carefully selected by their chef. From the sounds and tastes of it, the staff at Whitfield, from the front of the house to the back take great pride in what’s going on your plate. Angel was very knowledgeable about the menu and is actually the reason I decided on the chicken dish. I rarely order chicken when I go out to eat because I cook it so frequently at home, but the smoked chicken kept catching my eye. When I asked her what her thoughts were on it, she didn’t even skip a beat before saying “oh, it’s SO good.” Sold.
I’d be remiss if I forgot to mention the mac and cheese… that sweet, heavenly, melt in your mouth bacon mac and cheese. I like to think of myself as a bit of a mac and cheese connoisseur, and I think most of my friends and family would back this up. This was absolutely one of the best mac and cheese dishes I’ve ever had. No fancy frilly noodles here… just perfectly cooked elbow macaroni and a cheese sauce that was the perfect consistency. Top it all off with some crisp bacon crumbles and panko bread crumbs… you’ve got yourself a gold medal-worthy mac and cheese, my friends.
When I finally hit a mac and cheese wall, Angel came over to clear our plates and box up our leftovers. Lee and I decided we had to give the dessert menu a shot and ordered the 12-layer chocolate cake ($10). I’m not really a fan of dessert, but I do love chocolate and this did not disappoint. It was enough of a slice that we could share it, but don’t be surprised if you want to gobble a slice of this up all by yourself.
All around it was a wonderful experience. I’m so excited to have the Ace Hotel here in Pittsburgh and will absolutely be back to the Whitfield many times. As I mentioned before, it’s obvious that the staff, from the front of the house to the back, knows exactly what they’re doing and I look forward to them keeping up this amazing, delicious work!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll reward myself for completing my New Year’s Resolution by staying a night at the Ace Hotel… after all, I hear its fun to stay at the YMCA 🙂
Total dinner (for two) before tip: $90
Good for: small groups, dinner, brunch
Attire: casual, dressy
120 S. Whitfield Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15206