If you’re familiar with Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood, odds are good you know about The Elbow Room. Established in 1947, it’s actually the longest-standing restaurant in the neighborhood, and for good reason: the food is immaculate, the service is great, and the atmosphere just makes it feel like home. However, after 64 years at their old location, the restaurant made its first location change in history: up a couple blocks to the ever-popular Walnut Street. While the new location made room for their bar to expand, the menu is the true attraction. A list of great appetizers, entrees, burgers and brilliant sandwiches make it a place for everybody.
A veteran of the restaurant, I had never tried their signature Steak Sandwich, an Elbow Room classic, and believe me, I’ll never forgive myself for not trying it earlier.
As the menu describes the super-powered sandwich, it’s made up of “grilled strip steak with grilled onions, hearty tomatoes and lettuce, topped with provolone and served on ciabatta.” Just the description should have your mouth watering, but as soon as you see it on the plate, it’s almost too much to behold. The sandwich is an absolute tower, with a perfectly-prepared slice of tender steak, with the provolone melted to perfection. The lettuce and tomato give it a nice, fresh crispness, the grilled onions mesh perfectly with the cheese, and the ciabatta’s as fresh as it comes.
As soon as you pick the sandwich up, you can tell the bread’s high quality stuff. The melted provolone, onions and bread combine to create a single piece of the sandwich, then you get the fresh crisp of the lettuce and tomato, and the meat is sandwiched with the two parts to create a wholly fantastic experience. Every component is selected well, but the real all-star here is the amazing ciabatta: with normal buns or bread, this sandwich would be good, not great. Guess what: this sandwich is great, and it’s thanks to the comforting pillows of ciabatta on either side of the heavenly insides. The sandwich is served with a side of the place’s great french fries, and if you’re looking to make those a little more interesting, ask your waiter/waitress for a side of the lemon-mustard sauce: it’s an Elbow Room staple, and one of the best dipping sauces I’ve ever sampled.
For steak-fanatics, this sandwich will take you to another world, but I’d recommend it for just about anybody who isn’t a vegetarian: it ranks up there as one of the best ways I’ve ever eaten a piece of steak. The rest of the menu is chock full of great choices, of course, and I just might have to come back to have another word with the newly redone Elbow Room’s palate of sandwiches.