Chevrolet has figured out a way to take an ordinary car indifferent woman (that’s me!) and make her fall in love with sleek beautiful vehicles and I’m afraid there’s no going back.
General Motors Northeast invited me and several other Pittsburgh food bloggers on the Pittsburgh Chevy Shake & Sliders Crawl. During the event, we would be driving around the city in the latest lineup of Chevy vehicles and stopping at several restaurants and cafes to sample the best burgers and milkshakes Pittsburgh offers. Burgers and shakes were the hook—of course food bloggers are going to be interested!
The Tahoe Hybrid, Equinox, Camaro, Volt and Cruz were all in a line and gleaming at the meeting point. I must admit there might have been one or two others but there was a certain vehicle there that was distracting me terribly but you’ll have to wait a little bit to see which one. The GM representatives introduced themselves and spoke a little about each car.
The Tahoe Hybrid was remarkably impressive. It’s a full size SUV that is fully loaded with every imaginable extra and it still gets an average of 21 mpg that is a big improvement over other SUVs. The Camaro had a Heads Up Display (HUD) that projects not only the speed and direction but also the name of the song on the radio. The Cruz has excellent gas mileage and has the highest possible safety rating. I learned that the Volt plugs into a standard 120v outlet to charge and that the Equinox has the most rear seat legroom that easily accommodates a 6’4 person in the back even if a similarly heighted individual is in front. I found this last bit relevant because then my husband would have no protests when I told him I wanted to drive. You can see where my interests lie: mileage, extras, convenience, and safety, but really there is so much more to all of the vehicles which you can find at Chevrolet if things like drive trains and engines are more interesting to you than XM Radio and convertible tops.
Our first stop on the Crawl was Brgr. This restaurant is located in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh that in the last couple of years has been seeing a revival as new restaurants, bars and shops open. We were given a table and friendly welcome on the upper patio and the first milkshake and baskets of fried pickles were brought out. The spiked ‘King’ shake with its perfect blend of chocolate, peanut butter and banana was delicious as expected but what was unexpected was how I felt about the fried pickle. Normally, I don’t care for pickles but what they say is true; frying makes anything taste good. The light crispy coating crackled when I bit into the firm pickle and mellowed the usual bold flavor of a pickle just enough that I’m sure even the most sincere pickle hater would find it tasty.
Hal of This Man's Kitchen holds up the 'Shrooms Burger at Brgr
The next two shakes were non-alcoholic which was probably a good thing on a hot day! The chocolate shake was good but it was the Salted Caramel shake that grabbed my attention. It’s a vanilla bean milkshake drizzled with sea salted caramel that isn’t to be missed. We chatted while we sipped about the cars that were waiting to whisk us to our next stop, each other’s blogs, and of course, food. Baskets of fries tossed with Parmesan and herbs were passed and everyone dug in. They were thin and crispy; a perfect compliment to the meaty burgers that came next.
Brgr had three burgers for us to sample. First, was the ‘Shrooms burger which I have had the pleasure of having here before that never gets old. Mushrooms, caramelized onions, Brie and mustard aioli all add an earthy quality to this burger which makes it just right anytime. The Button Buster burger features braised beef short ribs, white cheddar, béarnaise aioli and crispy onions. The last burger was a salmon burger, which is something I had never considered. It’s made with king wild salmon, cucumber and tomato relish, crisp applewood smoked bacon and caper aioli. The salmon burger was a handful, bits and pieces of it spilling out and requiring tucking back in but it was good. I do think I will be sticking with my ‘Shrooms burger because I dearly love the mushrooms and caramelized onions combination.
Our group split up into the different vehicles and drove along Penn Avenue, slowly descending into downtown Pittsburgh. I didn’t mind the traffic because I was driving the Camaro convertible. I don’t think Lauren, of EatPittsburgh who was riding shotgun minded either! It was my first time driving a convertible and it was exciting; I wouldn’t have minded if that drive lasted a little longer.
Sharp Edge on Penn Avenue is tucked snugly into the heart of downtown. I must have passed it dozens of times not noticing it but now that I know it’s there I’ll be making up for lost time. They are known for their beer selection of approximately 200 types of bottled beer and 30 beers on tap but they are also know for a few unique burgers and we got to taste a couple of them.
Inside Sharp Edge it was cool and dim, lending that ‘established’ feel to the place. A large, wide staircase led upstairs to a private dining room where we were seated and brought cool, refreshing beverages that were much appreciated on a 90 plus degree day! Large plates of frites were carried to our table. Their deep golden brown color was achieved by a double frying process. Don’t be alarmed by the double frying; I’m sure the extra crispiness is worth it.
The first burger was the Belgium burger. It is a lamb and sirloin blend with shallot and bacon that is topped with whole grain mustard and smoked gouda. I’m still learning to truly appreciate lamb and reserved my ‘best of the three’ for another Sharp Edge burger. Next, was a burger made of something I have considered even less than a salmon burger. It was ostrich. Yes, ostrich. This burger was a 50/50 blend of ostrich and mixed with red onion, Dijon, and black pepper. It was topped with pepper jack and ancho chili aioli for a little bit of a kick. The ostrich burger was very, very lean –perfect for someone wishing to combat the piles of frites that were sure to be eaten. The last burger was my favorite of the three and another unexpected burger. It was a blend of duck and herbs and topped with dried cherry stone ground mustard, smoked Gouda, baby greens, tomato and onion. The texture was unlike a traditional burger but it was tasty and there was an intriguing subtle sweetness to it.
Back in the Camaro, we chose to leave the top up for the short drive to the Southside that is just across the river. I was concerned that the Camaro would feel confining with the top up but after a moment of readjusting to the idea of a roof on a car it felt as spacious as a traditional car. The garage we parked in had one of those spiraling ramps that lead down to the exit and as we turned around the first bend I felt the familiar nervousness that I have in these circular ramps that I will bash the car off the interior wall. But by the time we had gone from the fifth floor to the fourth I could see that my worries were unfounded. The Camaro took the continuous curves beautifully all the way down making me appreciate its turning ability and responsiveness. Little did I know that it also turned the final bend in my heart of car indifference!
The final stop of the day was the Milkshake Factory by Edward Marc, Chocolatier. Somehow, we managed a group picture outside and a few others in between all of the children spilling out of the front door delightedly clutching dripping cones of colorful ice cream in every hue. The last of the children came out and we went inside where we met Edward Marc and he told us a little bit about the Milkshake Factory. He and his sister are the fourth generation to own and operate the business that first opened in 1914. The ice cream is specially made for them to use on cones, in sundaes and of course, milkshakes! They have 55 different flavors of milkshakes to choose from and soon will be offering a new one. For the Fourth of July, the Milkshake Factory will be premiering their Watermelon Shake that will be made from a puree of watermelon, vanilla ice cream and dark chocolate ‘seeds.’ But if that’s not impressive enough, the Milkshake Factory also offers many different kinds of handmade chocolates.
Fifty-five shakes are far too many to sample at once for even the most determined food blogger and milkshake lover. Edward Marc had seven shakes prepared for us to sample: Classic Vanilla, Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, Strawberry Banana, Cajun Chocolate, PB & J, Red Velvet and Carrot Cake. Better to savor rather than stuff oneself, everyone decided to sample three of the seven. It was a hard and easy decision to choose the samples. I ruled out the PB & J immediately and immediately felt like I missed out on something when I heard several others complimenting it. The carrot cake was intriguing because it was made with actual carrot cake but I had pretty much already thumbed my nose at vegetables that day so I passed. Vanilla is classic but I was feeling a bit more adventurous. Chocolate Raspberry wins every time so no Cajun Chocolate for me.
I chose the Chocolate Raspberry, the Red Velvet and the Strawberry Banana. The first was a chocolate lover’s dream with delicate bursts of raspberry coming through. The Red Velvet, the Milkshake Factory’s bestseller, is well deserving of the title. It tasted exactly like the cake and was amazing. When I go back in a few days (yes, that soon) I plan to get the Red Velvet Shake and sip it slowly and without any other delicious milkshake distractions. The Strawberry Banana shake reminded me of a smoothie. It was made with real fruit and felt fresh and light despite being creamier than any smoothie ever was.
Edward Marc generously told us to pick out any chocolates we wished and had them boxed up for us. I picked Sea Salted Caramel Chocolate (not surprised, huh?), Honey & Coconut Milk Chocolate and a Dark Chocolate Truffle. I don’t know how the employees resist popping chocolates into their mouths all day long.
On the return to where we began the Pittsburgh Chevy Crawl, we activated the OnStar in the Camaro. It required a touch of a button and a few spoken words and we had a real live person on the other line. The ease of telling a human where you want to go is incomparable to trying to type on a tiny phone touchscreen while driving when you looking for directions to a specific location. I sort of wished we had gotten lost so we could have tested out the OnStar more thoroughly!
The Pittsburgh Chevy Shake & Sliders Crawl came to an end too soon and I was sorry to say goodbye to everyone. The GM representatives passed out thank you gift bags for participating chock full of things to remind us of our day. And I DO plan on trying to replicate that Red Velvet shake someday!
And as a final thank you, some of us that chose were given a Chevy to drive for a week. Guess which one I got?
Chevrolet’s plan was ingenious. I enjoyed all of the cars they brought to the crawl but I am love with this one. If I paint my Chevy Uplander inferno orange, do you think I can convince them that the loaned me a van and not a Camaro?
Yeah, I don’t think so either!