Wheelfish, in a North Hills, promises “blues, scotch and BBQ”
August 23, 2017 - bbq set
“Blues. Bourbon. BBQ.” is a sign of Wheelfish in Ross Township. Many have followed a hazed pleasures of this alliterative contingent in locales distant some-more hardscrabble than Pittsburgh’s nearby North Hills, though we’re open to anticipating sorcery in astonishing places.
So it was with large appetites and open minds that we gathering past neat suburban houses on rolling immature lawns to lift into a sand parking lot of Wheelfish’s nation building. Wagon wheels leaned opposite a unpainted board-and-batten walls, as if a tough day of eking a vital off a land was usually giving proceed to a tub-thumping pleasures of a nation evening.
Inside, a theatre was set adult during one finish of a dining room, with sound apparatus prepared to go, though on a Tuesday, a left-behind playlist supposing a usually blues in evidence. The theatre and rough-hewn ambience of Wheelfish’s barn-wood interior indeed date to a predecessor, Frank N Stein’s, though fit a stream judgment to a T. The rusticity felt some-more like an temperament than a pose; it didn’t need to be propped adult with blues posters on a wall or crafty names on a menu.
The menu strike a honeyed spot: The grill horizon was classic, a sum fresh. Alongside pulled-pork nachos and wings, for instance, were brisket quesadilla and roasted-beet salad. Standard smoked meats were protracted by salmon and smoked eggplant options. Sides enclosed mac-and-cheese and pig and beans, though also napa cabbage slaw.
The quesadilla was fantastic. It started with a ideally flaky-crisp tortilla and incorporated a stuffing that had a lot going on — meat, peppers honeyed and hot, onion, cheddar and BBQ salsa — though still let that glorious tortilla share a spotlight. The salsa flavored a fillings though drowning them, and a meat, while in bite-size pieces, was estimable adequate to make a peculiarity clear, finish with palatable fat cap.
The best partial of a beet salad was a citrus vinaigrette, splendid and easily acidic to change a honeyed components of beets, golden raisins and candied pecans, though tipping over into puckery sourness. Meanwhile, a greens were sharp enough, and sheep’s-milk feta sea enough, to equivalent a accumulative outcome of 3 honeyed ingredients. Our usually censure was a surprisingly meagre apportionment of tangible beets.
We unequivocally favourite Wheelfish’s proceed to chicken. Flash-frying a smoked bird combined a light, crispy bombard that didn’t confuse from a meat’s season with a heavily seasoned coating. The leg was, for a many part, succulent, though a few bites were dusty out, a startling attainment with dim meat. Sadly, this was a messenger of things to come.
We started in on a tiny finish of a half-rack of ribs, pulling off a final bone to exhibit copiousness of gorgeous, pinkish flesh. But a swig fast suggested that looks were deceiving: The beef was tough, dry and over-seasoned. A second, smaller punch was some-more manageable, though still not right. A representation from a other end, a core of a strange rack, nailed a hardness — moist, tender, still with some gnaw — though a saltiness remained a problem.
Salmon, in sandwich form, suffered from a opposite kind of overcooking: While a beef was flaky and luscious throughout, there was an definite fishiness to it, suggestive of canned tuna or reheated fish. It was a shame, generally since a other sandwich components — ciabatta roll, arugula, feta and aioli — came together splendidly to emanate a multiple that could have been a standout.
Of all a grill we ordered, smoked eggplant was a best: palatable and meaty, not during all rubbery as feeble baked eggplant can be; deeply infused with hazed flavor; and sauced with an harsh tomato ragout. Most of a sides were great, too. Pork and beans were tighten to perfect, with copiousness of good beef and perceptibly a spirit of sugarine among a churned beans, while mac-and-cheese, surfaced with toasted breadcrumbs, was tawny and simple. Wheelfish switches adult a cornbread seasonally, and blueberry was a ideal accent for high summer, a sweet-tart berries popping juicily in a bread’s agreeably dirty crumb. But fries were disappointing: A store of what looked like beautiful, deep-brown russets valid dry and tough, again as if reheated or hold underneath feverishness too long.
Lots of places offer informal grill salsas these days, though Wheelfish sticks to variations on a classical theme: Blue Collar (regular), Gentleman (sweet), and Cowboy (spicy) sauces. All were good offset between tomato and vinegar, fume and pepper.
Like a salsas themselves, many of Wheelfish’s preparations were solid. But for a grill that puts grill front and center, a smoked-meat diversion was surprisingly uneven.