Eat’N Park

By | August 22, 2006

Eat’N Park
Everywhere and all the time.

So today, worlds collided: my coworker Rich W. discovered that I write TastyBurgher, and I discovered that he reads it. Hurrah! I love to meet my TastyReaders! I asked him for all kinds of feedback, and he wondered why, with all the other Pittsburgh-centric reviews, had I not managed to complete a blurb about Eat‘N Park. Well, I have thought about it all afternoon, and I think the main thing that has been holding me back is the Baked Scrod. I mean, come on – nothing sounds more unappetizing that Baked Scrod – Blarg! Seriously, couldn’t they name their dishes something a little less unfortunate? But no, they have all kinds of scrod-ular dishes. There’s Baked Scrod, Broiled Scrod, Baked Scrod Scampi, and Nantucket Scrod. Then there’s my personal favorite, Florida Scrod (also known as Senior Baked Scrod on some menus). Eugh…That just makes me picture a wrinkly old man’s you-know-whats. By the way, did you know that the highest rate of STD contraction in the US is within the retirement communities in Florida? It is true, my doctor friend told me it is a serious new problem. Our friend Rich P. (another Rich) posits that it is the result of a perfect storm of post-menopause and Viagra. Think about that next time you call Granny in Sarasota…. So, YUM – are you all ready to go to Eat‘N Park now?!?! Yeah, me neither….but Eat‘N Park has its place and time (mostly in the wee hours of the morning) and it’s a real Pittsburgh fixture, so put on your Smiley faces and lets talk about Eat’N Park!

Now it is unfair of me to just wail on Eat’N Park because of the scrod factor. Incidentally, scrod is not an actual fish, but a name for a group of possible fishes that may be labeled as scrod and served interchangeably due to their similar textures. Some claim that the word is synonymous with ‘Catch of the Day’, but this is not true. It is a specific set of fishes, cod, haddock, and Pollock. These fishes may masquerade as each other to provide the purveyor with lower quality and cheaper fish alternatives when needed. Ordering scrod is like playing ocean roulette – not a good idea.

But enough about scrod. They also have just plain old cod. Why do they have both? The world may only speculate. But we do know that there are other dishes at Eat’N Park completely devoid of fish products. There are such delicious treats as liver and onions, veal parmigiana, and other cuts of meat probably unadvisable to get at rock bottom prices such as these. And then they’ve gotten into the popular Asian fusion trend too, with a stir fry or two and sesame pork chops. These are listed right alongside Salisbury Steak and Fish ‘n’ Mac. It’s not that these recipes on their own are not capable of being good; it is that they are not executed well or consistently at Eat’N Park. Basically, don’t get dinner here unless you want to relive your cafeteria days.

I could rib on Eat’N Park all day, but I do want to mention that there are some good things about them. For instance, they do a pretty respectable breakfast. It’s nothing spectacular, but they’ll give you want you want at a fair price. Belgian waffles covered with hot cinnamon apples and whipped cream, a stack o’ pancakes with butter and syrup, omelettes, french toast, you name it! They also have a midnight breakfast buffet from 12 to 3am at some locations (Squirrel Hill included) that is just perfect for that after-drinking food craving, especially if you feel more like eggs and bacon than a Primanti’s sandwich. And if you don’t feel like breakfast, then have a slice of pie and a shake – equally good after-drinking bites.

Eat’N Park also is the purveyor of some more Pittsburghian diner traditions that are fading fast from our gastronomical landscape. One such thing is the ‘grilled stickies’ concept. Taking an already perfectly good sticky sweet breakfast bread and then grilling it in butter so it’s hot and delicious is an old-fashioned but totally bitchin’ idea. The Eat’N Park rendition of this dish is perhaps a little too mundane, but at least it is keeping the tradition alive. DeLucca’s in the Strip still has a pretty traditional grilled pecan roll, and Charlie’s Diner used to have an excellent one but that place is long since gone (too bad since it was in a cool train car, which you can still visit on Penn Ave and which was featured in a Zippy the Pinhead cartoon strip).

Another good thing about Eat’N Park is that they generally care about the community. They hire local people to work there, they provide food cheaply, and they pay attention to special needs customers, like the elderly. They even have a no-gluten menu for those with Celiac disease. They also have a great history as a Pittsburgh based drive-in with carhops and the whole bit. Plus, it is a waaaay better alternative than Denny’s and that ilk. Also, it has better service than Ritter’s. All the above being said, I still wish they had better food. It is mostly just blah and boring, though sometimes it can actually be bad. It is always cheap though, so just go armed with the knowledge of what to get and you won’t have any problems.


The biscuits are not as good as they should be

Wear a costume on Halloween and they might give you a free smiley cookie! I must confess though, the smiley cookie is not my favorite thing in the world. It is more about the smiley than the cookie if you know what I mean. The smiley cookie itself has become their trademark. As company logos go, you can’t get more original than a smiley face. (< -- sarcasm) And cutting a cookie in that shape is sooo hard! (< -- more sarcasm) I guess I might be a bit of a cookie snob, but listen to the following words well: the worst time to eat a smiley cookie is after running the Race for the Cure. They always have a big stand of smiley cookies at the finish line so you can start eating one as soon as you are done running 5K. This is tempting, and I fall for it every time, but boy is it a bad idea. Only do that if you want to feel sick from simultaneous dehydration and sugar overload.

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