Tavern 245 brings a pub atmosphere downtown
While some may say that eating is the worst possible way to deal with stress, for some students, escaping the pressure of the Carnegie Mellon campus for a leisurely night out with friends is actually a great way to relax. For most, a visit to South Craig Street or a walk down to Shadyside is satisfactory, but if you’re looking for a change of atmosphere, or possibly planning for that special first date, why not take a trip to bustling downtown?
While one can always find restaurants with pub-like atmospheres in Shadyside and Oakland, a restaurant of a similar impression is a rare find in urban downtown. That’s why visitors were excited by the cozy dining atmosphere and unique eating experience when Tavern 245 opened this July in a tucked-away location on Fourth Avenue.
Owner Chip Hamilton, in an interview with Pam Starr of The Pittsburgh Tribune, said that when it comes to dining downtown, there is a large gap between the multiple fast-food restaurants and the up-scale dining establishments. “We are trying to create a niche that’s not being met downtown,” Hamilton said. “My vision was of an affordable lunch menu with good food. The most expensive thing here is $12.”
There are certain aspects about this restaurant that are uniquely tavern-like, yet the ambiance is still incredibly modern. The restaurant, like your typical pub, serves several locally brewed beers on tap. Similarly, with a smoker-friendly bar area and a downstairs lounge furnished with classic leather seating, this downstairs restaurant gives off a classic ’50s feel.
The upstairs dining area gives off a completely different impression with tall ceilings, large windows, and contrastingly avant-garde decor. The bar upstairs channels the atmosphere of a Manhattan social hub with its racks of various liquors and expansive cocktail menu.
Atmosphere aside, the Tavern 245 menu is an interesting take on American cuisine. Along with classic salads and sandwiches, the menu also features an assortment of entrees that draw from European and Latin American flavors.
Several international foods are represented within the Tavern 245 menu. From Italian classics like bruschetta and caprese chicken to Asian-influenced dishes like the seared orange ahi, it truly feels as if there is a world of options in front of you. Aside from popular American dishes like the downtown burger and classic reuben, Tavern 245 also offers several Pittsburgh-inspired dishes like the steel city quesadillas, the penguin wingers, and the Pittsburgher angus beef entree.
The menu of Tavern 245 was put together by executive chef Jay Lewis, a 35-year-old Californian native who previously worked at the Palomino restaurant on Liberty Avenue before it closed last May. Lewis, a self-taught chef who never attended culinary school, is known to pay close attention to his dishes. Because of this attention to detail, Lewis’ appetizers and sandwiches go a long way in taste.
Already, Lewis’ food has made quite an impression on food critics. A critic from www.foodburgh.com wrote that “[Tavern 245] serves up a casual atmosphere, friendly staff, and a menu that I could enjoy,” naming the Fourth Avenue Tacos as his favorite dish. Writers from both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Pittsburgh Tribune also had only positive things to say.
Despite the somewhat mature atmosphere, the Tavern 245 menu has also largely appealed to the student population. “I loved eating at Tavern 245,” said Lauren Milisits, a sophomore mechanical engineering major. “My friends and I went to the upstairs dining room over parents’ visiting weekend. The caesar salad was incredible and my chicken sandwich was layered with the most delicious combination of fresh ingredients. I love how the chef took an assortment of classic American dishes and spiced them up with healthy toppings and alternatives.”
Vegetarian diners need not be fooled by the restaurant’s apparent meat-centered menu. Tavern 245 has a plethora of options, including guacamole dishes, hummus dishes, and various soups and salads. Also, any entree featured on the menu can also be re-created as a vegetarian option.
Tavern 245 also boasts several homemade desserts for diners with a sweet tooth. The menu includes several healthy options including fruit plates and sorbets, plus more decadent treats like strawberry shortcake, Dave and Andy’s ice cream, and black and gold chocolate mousse.
If you’re in the mood for some delicious food and a trendy, fresh atmosphere, take a trip downtown to Tavern 245. Chances are you’ll find yourself refreshed and your tummy satisfied.