So, you are new to Pittsburgh, or just visiting and you have decided to ask one of the locals for a recommendation about where to go to see the sites. Most likely, the most popular recommendation will be to go to Mount Washington to take in the one of a kind, can’t be duplicated anywhere else, view of a downtown that is breathtakingly beautiful.
Frankly, I would offer the same advice.
What’ the best way to get there, you may ask. Again, there will be a consensus. Go by incline, any Pittsburgher will surely recommend. Once again, I would agree. Now, there was a time, granted I am talking about the 19th century, when the selection process would have been much more complicated. Afterall there were seventeen inclines scaling the many hills that surround the downtown area then.
Now, only two remain. Both are not only worthy of a trip, but are, as stated above, GO TO destinations for any visitor. The Monongahela Incline, which connects the shops at Station Square to the shops on Shiloh Street will be featured in a future edition of The City Scene.
In this, our inaugural edition of Two Views from Mt. Washington, we will focus on the Duquesne Incline. Actually, we are not really featuring the incline quite yet, but instead one of the places that the cable cars will lead you.
There are a number of spectacular places to draw you in along Grand Boulevard on the top of the hill, including ornate churches and observation decks perched out over sheer, tree canopied walls that fall gracefully toward the Monongahela River, but it is the restaurants, the view itself, and most importantly restaurants with a view, that really make Mt. Washington an unforgettable destination.
One particular restaurant with a view is Vue 412. This place provides the perfect balance of food, ambience and a vista that you would not soon forget, and the presentation is an exercise in the mastery of culinary Fung Shui.
I call it Fung Shui, Chef Brian Molish, or for those of us in the know, Chef B, calls it the practice of bringing together the five S’s; Savory, Salty, Sour, Sweet and Spicy. Somehow he manages to make all five happen in every dish that he creates. I don’t know how he does it, but he does it. Who am I to even contemplate the genius of a Pennsylvania Culinary Academy Cum Laude.
Just listening to the guy speaking about salmon roe risotto, blackened shrimp & crab cake, smoked mussel bisque, spicy remoulade or saffron aioli will make you forget all about the starfield of city lights below you, at least for a little while.
The location of Vue 412 is convenient as well. The restaurant is no more than a block from the incline, in fact, there are a few places from within the eatery itself where you can watch the light studded cable cars moving north and south along their tracks.
For me though, I like the view of the nightscape facing south. There is just something about a series of barges slowly tugging their way along the river that stirs my imagination.
No doubt, Vue 412 is one of my favorite restaurants in one of my favorite neighborhoods. I’m not sure if it is the wine list, or the food, or the elegant precision that goes into the overall dining experience at Vue 412, (did I mention that Chef B. is also a military veteran and runs his kitchen with order and efficiency you would expect with such a background), or the unique whole made from so many unforgettable parts that has me feeling that way, and in the end the why’s don’t really matter.
The bottom line if you are an out of towner is to heed this advice. Ride the Duquesne incline to the top of Mount Washington, take in the vista provided through the spacious windows of Vue 412, enjoy unforgettable food, second to none hospitality, and a night you will never forget.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an incline to ride.