The Park House | Restaurant Reviews | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Years in Business: 78 Crowd: Neighborhood types (jeans to business casual) ages 25 to 60; scrubs-wearing young staffers from nearby Allegheny General; silver-haired man scrutinizing the bouquet of craft-beer tap handles; Fridays and Saturdays can find aprés-theater folk (cast, crew, audience) from nearby venues. Décor: Tin-ceilinged, wallpapered, wood-paneled pub. TV Situation: Two flat-screens, tuned to sports. Food: Pub grub with a Middle Eastern flip-side -- though the lack of a kitchen means that all hot food, including the tasty from-scratch falafel, is microwave-finished behind the bar. The hummus is also popular. Noise: Agreeable patron chatter, unobtrusive jukebox; early on weekday evenings, it's quiet enough to hear the TV sports announcers. Smoking: No. Bring a Date or Find a Date: Bring. Best Drink Special: Half-price happy-hour micro and import drafts. Most Popular Drink: Martini glasses are stacked behind the bar, but the crowd here likes "draft beer and shots," says a barback. Eighteen well-chosen beers are on tap -- Dogfish Head, Green Flash, Troeg's and Magic Hat among them -- with more variety bottled in the cooler. (And if you request water, you'll get an old-school long-neck quart-bottle-full, with a Mason-jar glass.) Local Quaff: East End Big Hop on tap. Odd Fact About Bar: Long a storied tavern -- it claims to have been the first bar licensed in Pittsburgh after Prohibition -- six years ago the Park House was sold to Zamir Zahavi. Some regulars felt the place suffered with the subsequent departure of longtime staff. But after closing for the second half of 2008, the Israeli-born Zahavi re-opened and began luring back customers. Improvements include a much-expanded tap system, but the décor remains virtually unchanged since the early '90s (and probably longer). Meanwhile, the popcorn and peanuts are still free, and the Park House remains, famously, the place where you can just let the peanut shells flutter to the floor. Available diversions: Video slots and bar-top trivia game; peg-board game on the tables; word games on the paper placemats. Live Entertainment: Mostly bluegrass, country and acoustic, free on selected Saturdays -- though belly-dance outfit Ishtar is featured Feb. 20. Five Songs From the Jukebox: "Bigmouth Strikes Again" (The Smiths); "Heartbreaker" (Led Zeppelin); "Paper Planes (BlaqStarr Remix)" (M.I.A.); "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues" (The Eels); a bunch of Dave Matthews. Best (and Only) Bathroom Grafitti: "Unite!" on the men's-room TP dispenser. Wi-Fi: Yes. Overheard Dialogue: Bartender to departing middle-aged couple: "Stop back in again." She: "Oh, we will." He: "We shall, we shall." Condoms in Bathroom? No. The Last Word: The Park House has "come back," said a local who stopped in for a draft. "It's a good thing for our neighborhood."

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