Off The Hook – Warrendale

AKA – my epic birthday dinner.

Yesterday was my birthday.  And my birthday used to be my most favorite day of the year.  The thrill is gone.

Well, not entirely.  I still love the excuse to get together with all of my favorite people.  And the excuse to indulge in a truly decadent meal.  This year, Jerry took me to a place I’ve been wanting to try for a while, Off The Hook.

As you can imagine, it’s a seafood restaurant.  And if you’ve ever been to Monterey Bay, you’ll know exactly what you’re in for.  Off The Hook is the brainchild of MB’s former owners.  The menu is very similar and just as delicious.

After we were seated, the waitress came to our table to review the specials.  “They are baking some fresh bread but while we wait, let me tell you about our features this evening…”.  Excuse me?  You had me at baking bread.

Here’s the low down on our meal:

Fresh baked, herb rolls – hot, herby and amazing

The Combo Appetizer (2 Jumbo shrimp, dusted in Cajun seasoning and seared on a white hot skillet. Served with orange horseradish marmalade, a skewer of bite size pieces of tuna, salmon & swordfish marinated in a ginger soy sauce and finished with a Ancho Chili aioli and a signature Jumbo lump crab cake served with Remoulade sauce)  – the star of this was the Ichiban skewer.  That fish was so flavorful! Even a fish hater would like it.

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Jenny: French Onion Soup – That massive mound of cheese covered some of the best FO soup I’ve ever had.  Tons of flavor but without the saltiness that sometimes overpowers it.  And did I mention massive amounts of cheese.  It was really good.  I could’ve ended dinner right there.

Jerry:  Caesar Salad – Jerry opted for no anchovies.  And he said it was decent.


Lobster Whipped Potatoes – allow me to repeat…Lobster. Whipped. Potatoes.  These were insane. The sides are served family style and this could feed 4 people easily.  The lobster was perfect and the potatoes were whipped with at lease 5 lbs of butter.  So creamy and rich, I only had a small portion of them.  But they were worth every calorie.


There was really no reason for me to eat another bite.  But we both ordered entrees…and it was my birthday, soooooooo….

Jenny:  Halibut Parmesan StyleCoated with Parmesan cheese, sautéed, with a white wine, lemon and black pepper cream sauce

Jerry – Black Grouper with Chorizo and cream – char grilled chorizo sausage with sautéed fennel and onions and smoked paprika cream

I win!  I win! Jerry’s Grouper was good but it paled in comparison to my Halibut.  At this point I was so full that I only ate a quarter of it.  But that fish was unreal.  It was light (surprisingly) and flaky, but moist.  Just perfect.

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And because it was my birthday, I got a free dessert.  Crème Brulee for the win!  Bourbon vanilla bean custard, torched to perfection.  Yes, yes it was.   


The food was outstanding but really, really heavy.  They supposedly have a great happy hour with 1/2 priced appetizers and 1/2 priced wine/beer/cocktails.  We easily could have split the Appetizer combo and each had a salad…and been completely satisfied.  Next time.

It was a great birthday!



Casa Reyna

Jerry and I take our Mexican food very, VERY seriously.  Personally, I could eat Mexican 3, 4, 7 times a week.  It’s probably the combo of cheese, spice and soft tortillas that get me.  But oh, guacamole…you have my heart.

We regularly hit up many of the Mexican restaurants the city has to offer…Emiliano’s, Gran Agave, Steel Cactus, Mad Mex, Yo Rita, Las Palapas, Round Corner Cantina, El Campesino, Patron…goodness, that’s a lot!  And not to mention my all time favorite…Cozumel in Greensburg.

So you can imagine how excited we were to try a new (to us) Mexican restaurant in the Strip District…Casa Reyna.

Reyna Foods is a well established Latin American grocer located on Penn Avenue. They have their own chip, tortilla and tamale factory!  And if you’re shopping in the Strip at any point in time, most likely you’ve passed their food stand in front of the store…the amazingly delicious smells almost knock you over!  And about 9 months ago, they opened Casa Reyna.

We started off with a salsa sampler with housemade corn chips.  The Casera salsa and the Tomatillo Verde were both terrific.  Nice kick but not too hot and as fresh as could be.  And the chips…the best I’ve ever had.  Seriously.

We didn’t want to eat a ton b/c we were going to have an early (ish) dinner.  So Jerry got 2 fish tacos and I got a chicken quesadilla & we split our meals.  I know.  Boooooring.  But stick with what you know, right?

Both were delicious.  The chicken was perfectly seasoned and so flavorful.  The fish was mild and flaky (just how we like it).  And Jerry has decided that they are the smartest people on the planet.  The fish was nestled inside a hard blue corn tortilla which was wrapped in a flour tortilla.   Brilliant!!  He gets so annoyed when he’s eating a crunchy taco and it falls apart everywhere.  This way, you get the crunchy fun of the hard taco shell and you don’t make a huge mess!!


Our waiter pointed out that the tortillas were being made about 10 feet away from us.  I peered through a little window and there they were!  Tortillas being churned out while we dined.  No wonder everything was so amazingly fresh.

Casa Reyna…we love you.  And we’ll be back soon!