Even in a city like Pittsburgh, where people put fries on just about everything, it would seem bold to open a restaurant where star items include heirloom grits with goat cheese and chicken and waffles stuffed with macaroni and cheese.
But that’s the approach Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen and Bar takes, banking on its menu of traditional Southern and Appalachian dishes that draw people to Steel City, where the restaurant officially opened its 18and place on Tuesday.
A visit to the brand-new Station Square restaurant — housed in a former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad freight building across West Station Square Drive from the Grand Concourse — indicates the food is likely to appeal to people.
The Tribune-Review sampled Asheville’s Hot Fried Chicken and Mac and Cheese Stuffed Waffles. The maple syrup poured on top can make anything good, but the boneless chicken was incredibly moist and flavorful with a spicy coating from a secret recipe.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Tupelo Honey Mac-N-Cheese Waffles with Asheville Hot Fried Chicken.
The same coating is given to the bone-in fried chicken served with collard greens and bacon and, of course, macaroni and cheese as well as house pickles.
“Fried chicken is what we’re known for,” said Tupelo Honey junior regional manager Spencer Henrion. “It’s an arduous process. We brine our fried chicken 24 hours a day. You simply can’t get better bone-in fried chicken anywhere.
Other Southern staples include shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, and bourbon pepper glazed meatloaf, among others. Everything is homemade including the banana pudding for dessert.
The Trib also sampled the sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and spiced pecans – a no-dessert dessert, salty cast iron pork with crispy Brussels sprouts and “Cat Head” cookies with whipped butter and jam blueberries.
The cookies are a story in themselves, part of a Tupelo Honey program called “Biscuits for a Cause.” All proceeds from cookie sales go to an employee relief fund. Any employee who needs help with personal financial issues can apply for funds.
“We got money for an employee who had her credit card stolen,” chief Aaron Worthey said. “I have never worked for a company that cares so much about its employees.”
Among the staff, bartender Sean Richard, 44, of Carnegie knows the location’s rich railroad history and isn’t shy about sharing it with customers.
“They’re trying to revive the tourist population here because it’s a historic area,” he said. “We want to be the best restaurant at the foot of the Smithfield Street Bridge, the oldest bridge in Pittsburgh.”
Henrion aims higher.
“We want this to be the best restaurant in Pittsburgh,” he said. “We’re ready to leave our mark here and bring people to Station Square and eat Southern food.”
Bartender Michael Scheer, 60, of Harrison, seems fully invested in Tupelo Honey’s Southern cuisine concept.
“There’s nothing wrong with good Southern cooking,” he said. “It will resolve just about anything that is ailing you. »
Tupelo Honey started in Asheville, North Carolina in 2000 and is now a chain with 21 locations in 14 states.
Tupelo Honey is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Paul Guggenheimer is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected]