The Grand Concourse

By | July 7, 2006

The Grand Concourse
100 W Station Square Dr
Station Square, 15219
M-F 11:30-2:30 & 4:30-10; Sat 4:30-11; Sun: 10:30-2:30

The Grand Concourse is a truly unique establishment.  For me, the Sunday Brunch is the real draw to the Grand Concourse, and if you’ve gone to the Grand Concourse you most likely went for that.  It is actually owned by a national chain, but aside from serving mostly seafood at dinner it is nothing like the other crab shacks that are its sister businesses.  Just as a quick factoid, they are all owned by a guy who was lost at sea in 1993 and never returned – not even the boat was found.  Spooky.  Now his kids take care of his myriad restaurants across the nation.  All the restaurants are hot with celebs too.  Seriously!  Even in our humble establishment I once saw Michael Stipe from REM.  He was right there in front of me – getting trifle!  I swear I heard him go, “mmmm.”  So if you don’t believe me that the brunch is phenomenal, don’t take my word for it; take his!

The Grand Concourse is located at Station Square in a beautiful old train station that is cavernous and comfortable.  There are multiple rooms in which you can dine, some of which are aligned with the river and the train tracks, so you can watch all manner of interesting traffic during your meal.  Another room juts into the neighboring Gandy Dancer Saloon, and the main room is simply glorious.  Truly any of the rooms are incredible to dine in, and the ‘River Room’ can be quite romantic.

As mentioned before, the dinner menu concentrates on seafood.  Lots of oysters and Rockefellers and shellfish pasta, lobster, surf n turf, coconut shrimp, yada yada yada.  I’ve been for dinner several times, but I must say that dinner is hardly their specialty.  They DO vary their oyster selection with the season and what is available, so they at least get one major plus for that.  The rest of the menu is fine, but perhaps not worth the price.  Being originally from Florida, I tend not to do very much fish exploration in Pittsburgh.  It is just the nature of the beast.  I can’t really compare fish restaurants within Pittsburgh without thinking of the Food Shack in Jupiter, FL, and wishing I was there instead.  Most of the fish I have had in Pittsburgh has been OK, but never mind-blowing.  As far as I can tell, calling yourself a fish restaurant here is just a way to mark up your prices.  In any case, the Grand Concourse is a fish restaurant of exactly this caliber: OK-tasting but expensive.

Nonetheless, business at the Grand Concourse isn’t hurting.  With almost complete disregard to its daily seafood ways, the Grand Concourse has a sensational Sunday brunch.  Truly, this is the KING of brunches.  And you don’t even have to belong to some frou-frou-frilly country club to get it either.  Nope, any old schmoe with $20 and a nice sweater can have this brunch.  They have everything you could possibly imagine.  Before I get into any of it though, I’ve got one word to say to you: doughnuts.  Fresh, hot doughnuts coming from a doughnut machine.  They are piping hot (wherever that phrase came from) and golden delicious.  The day after Reed and I got married we had a brunch at the Grand Concourse for the out-of-town guests, and now two years later we are still hearing about are these doughnuts!  They are so good I even heard about some doughnut smuggling.  Be careful though — they do not last forever.  Once they’re out of batter, they’re gone.  Make sure your first stop is the doughnut-maker.

Other stops you might want to make include the lunch-type items table, the omelet station, the dessert spread, the bagel and lox display, and the fruit basket.  Here is an insider’s guide to the brunch stations.  If you want French Toast, go to the omelet station.  If you want a Belgian waffle, go to the room with the lunch-type items.  There you will find not only lunch stuff and carved beeves, but the kiddie food, the Belgian waffles, and all the fruit juices.  Another special treat in this room is the Bananas Foster, freshly prepared for you whenever you want it.  The Bananas Foster is a must-stop for many people.

My must-stops include the aforementioned doughtnuts, lunchy-stuff (Prime Rib, etc.), and Belgian waffles, plus the trifle.  I cannot go without the trifle.  It is custardy and fruity and plentiful.  I just keep glopping it right onto my plate!  And, for the record, I loved it long before I saw Michael Stipe eating it too.  So there.  The fruit is also wonderful, but for the sake of brunch-time efficiency it usually ends up on the bottom of my priority list.  As for the best plan of attack, all I can say is that you will probably want to try everything, so fast on Saturday and do-nut forget to be there early for the doughnuts. 

Brunch: doughnuts, waffles, trifle, prime rib, everything!

If you do go for dinner, make sure to save room for dessert for the Bananas Foster Crème Brulée.  It isn’t much like the Bananas Foster from the brunch, nor is it very much like Bananas Foster at all.  But its gooooood.  A wide but shallow bowl holds banana flavored crème brulée with crispty browned sugar crust and ton of sliced bananas on top.  MMM!

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