It was Thursday evening, brutally cold in the city of Pittsburgh. At one point, my friend’s iPhone informed us that although it was actually 24 degrees, it felt more like 8. It was the kind of cold that makes your eyes water. The kind of cold that makes you wish you were cozy in your jams, cuddled up in bed. (Not to mention that the Steelers were losing to the Cleveland Browns…) It was cold alright.
Thursday evening I ventured out into the brisk evening with my friends, Amy and Jesse. We parked in a nearby lot, and trudged our shivering bodies down the lifeless, gray, downtown streets to Seviche.
You know that part in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy first steps out of her displaced house into Munchkinland? That’s exactly the feeling I had as we stepped into Seviche. All of a sudden, the world was alive again; alive and in Technicolor. Vivacious dance music filled the air as we made our way to a table. We began peeling off hats, gloves, coats, and scarves and as we did, we began forgetting that we were at a restaurant in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh. We could have been in South Beach or South America or anywhere but downtown Pittsburgh. Trust me, it was an effortless transition.
We started with drinks, of course. Jesse began with Sangria Tinto, traditional red wine sangria with lots of fresh fruit. He loved it! Amy and I wanted to try an “authentic” mojito; can you believe I’ve never had a mojito before?! The mojito was very refreshing, sweet and not overpowered by the muddled mint. Now we’re settled! Let’s take a look at this menu…
I’ll be honest. Before that day, I had no idea what “seviche” was…it could have been a place or a person or some new shade of lime green I had never heard of. Actually, seviche is a Latin American style of seafood preparation, in which the seafood is marinated in citrus juice as opposed to being cooked. I was apprehensive about trying this new kind of cuisine. I like seafood very much, but sometimes I am distracted by texture. It took me a little while to warm up to sushi, so to speak. But I keep insisting that I’m adventurous…time to prove it.
Our server was exceptional. She was warm and welcoming, as all servers should be. She was very informative without sounding snobby, which is comforting at a restaurant with an uncommon cuisine. Also, she was patient; another comforting characteristic. She told us that the portions are very small, so we would probably want to order several things and share them. We did exactly that. At Seviche, you pick the type of seafood you want and then you pick the style of preparation. Our waitress took a little bit of the pressure off by telling us that if a combo we choose doesn’t really work well together, she would let us know so we could pick a different fish. VERY helpful. (Thank you, Haley!)
We began our foray into Latin American cuisine with the Tomatillo & Curried Mango Seviche with Salmon. It looked beautiful! Jesse immediately commented on the freshness of this dish. My pal Amy pointed out curry needs to be hot, and this wasn’t exceptionally spicy.
Next, we tried the Fire and Ice Seviche with Bahamian Conch, and it was very good. “Fire and Ice” was accurate, as this one mixes up the heat (habanero pepper) with the cool (pear granita). Right about here is when I finished my first mojito.
The third seviche of this round consisted of Tiradito with Hamachi (Yellow Tail Snapper). I really liked this one, it’s simple but flavorful- I really dig cilantro with citrus. This dish tasted the closest to traditional sushi with the jicama and calabaza slaw in place of cucumber or carrots.
Seviche also boasts an impressive tapas list. I LOVED La Sopa de Marisco, which is a ciabatta crouton in a saffron allioli (broth) and manchego cheese. This tapas really dazzled us. We also tried the Corn and Goat Cheese Croquettas…delicious little devils! Small puffs of corn & goat cheese, fried and served with peanut sauce and guacamole. Amazing.
The anxiety I felt before dinner quickly melted away. The seviche was so beautifully crafted, each one a tiny delicious piece of art. I was groovin’ on some spicy seviche, and I was happy to have that cool mojito to put the fire out. The food and drinks complimented each other PERFECTLY. That may sound like a lot of food, but it wasn’t…we breezed through round one in no time. We decided to choose three more from the seviche list and another bit of tapas as well. And of course, we ordered another round of drinks to enjoy while we waited. I went for a caipirinha, which is apparently the “national drink of Brazil.” It was cool and refreshing, and maybe just a little too sugary for me.
At this point in our dinner, we were feeling adventurous! We started round two with Asian Tartare with Ahi Tuna . This most impressive seviche is served on sushi rice and nori rolls with white truffle oil wasabi mayonnaise and Tobiko caviar- one of my favorite dishes of the evening.
We shared the Chips and Salsa trio tapas, although it’s definitely not as boring as it sounds. Plantain (!), malanga (kind of a taro), and tortilla chips are served with plenty of curried mango salsa, avocado salsa (surprisingly hot and delicious), and a more traditional pico de gallo. Excellent for sharing!
The final two seviches were the Ginger Tataki with scallops and the Avocado Corn Seviche with Octopus. The Ginger Tataki was crunchy and fresh and the scallop meshed very well with the pickled ginger and garlic ponzu. Although I LOVE avocado, this final seviche was, not for me. I did try a bite and it tasted fine…then my eyes landed on a little piece that was littered with tentacles and I was done. Tentacles!!! I guess my adventurousness draws the line at octopus.
Seviche is the kind of place that makes you think or talk about places you WANT to go. During dinner, we talked about our favorite vacation spots and places we’d like to live. What a great way to get to know your friends-daydreaming over some rum and Bahamian conch! Seviche’s lively atmosphere makes it easy to imagine yourself someplace else…even when you’re not.
I definitely recommend this restaurant to any sushi-lovers who may be sick of hibachi. In fact, I think anyone who loves seafood will love this place. And I know that any Pittsburgher who has had enough of the 2 hour delays and 5pm sunsets will LOVE Seviche. Vacation shmacation. There is plenty of heat at 930 Penn Avenue.
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Pittsburgh, PA 15222-3734