Siempre Algo snuck onto Pittsburgh’s restaurant scene without a grand opening or a party. Chef/owner Brian Hammond simply opened the doors to his eatery on East Ohio Street.
This understated approach is woven throughout the restaurant's design and menu. Beyond a busy dining room, low lighting draws your eyes to the open kitchen, and subtle details in decor pop out. A geometric pattern lines the kitchen wall. A poster of Godzilla sits underneath a sign reading “Don’t worry, everything is going to be amazing.” And it was.
After being seated, the server welcomed us with complimentary prosecco (not a bad start) and provided a description of the menu.
Siempre Algo's menu offers a take on tapas-style dining. There's a limited variety of entrees, but I’m a sucker for shareable plates. I ordered some house favorites, as recommended by our server: ceviche, homemade pretzels, sweetbreads, white gazpacho, and the evening's feature, an heirloom tomato salad.
This is a restaurant that understands balance. The dishes’ flavors were seamless; no component overpowered its companions.
The ceviche was fresh and light, matched perfectly with jicama and a touch of heat from serrano chilis. It’s a one-bite dish, but it stays in your mind.
Sweetbreads are a rare find, and Hammond has created harmony between a crispy shell on the tender meat with juicy mushrooms and a mild corn puree. The mushrooms stole the show, giving the plate an earthy savor.
A native of Lancaster County, my expectations are high when it comes to soft pretzels. Siempre Algo’s pretzels blew away mine. Every bite was fluffy with the mix of chew from the crust, leaving a heavenly, sweet taste.
Gazpacho is a love-it-or-hate-it food, but this white-bean variety is a gateway gazpacho. It’s light, releasing ingredients of fresh mint, cucumber, finishing with honey, and guiding you through flavors before ending with the sweetest.
The heirloom tomato salad showcased sweet, juice-dribbling deliciousness of a midsummer harvest (even though tomato season is wrapping). This salad won my heart with smoky, crispy speck, and a creamy goat’s milk feta cheese.
The evening was capped with a chocolate mousse that I would happily eat again and again. It was rich, but not sickeningly sweet, and had layers of cocoa flavor. I considered ordering three more.
The concept behind Siempre Algo is not new. Translated into Spanish, it means “always something.” The restaurant presents a small-plate centric menu that allows food to shine. It offers basic, traditional recipes with a seasonal twist. The restaurant lived up to the name.
Follow staff writer Maggie Weaver on Twitter @magweav.