Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lykke Li's Style & Addictive New Album, "Wounded Rhymes"

Okay, so I am a bit obsessed with "Wounded Rhymes" from Lykke Li. (Still obsessed with "Youth Novels", too.)  In fact, I'm listening to "I Follow Rivers" as I write this.  What I love about this girl's fashion is that her style totally matches the vibe of her songs: free and a little odd.  She's a Swedish singer who is only 24 and becoming more and more of a household name by the day.  Check out her music & get inspired by her signature bun!

P.S. Are you guys thinking this girl could be Lady Gaga's sister, too?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Getting Back In Shape After A Few Weeks Off At The Gym & In Life

Don't say no to LIFE, say no to your EXCUSES!
by Sarah Davis
(originally posted on April 25, 2011)

A good life, the happy life most of us crave, takes a lot of work. Likewise, the fit body that most of us want to have, also takes a lot of time and effort in the gym and dieting. Have you ever taken a few weeks off from the gym and tried to go back? You feel a little more sluggish, a little embarassed of yourself for getting off track, it take more will power to get your cardio in and you have to see tons of totally fit people around you.

These people are the ones who work out effortlessly, they have the latest workout gear, the most expensive pair of Nikes & instead of using their iPhone to listen to music, they probably have an iPad. Basically, you just feel like you're behind these people.

 I'm not as in shape as these people. I won't be able to work out as hard. I've taken time off from the gym and it's going to be hard to get back in shape. This type of thinking, these excuses you can create for yourself, can seem really discouraging. Really, if you can just get back to the gym and do anything at all, you're already back on track. Pushing yourself to get there is the hardest part. Sticking with it and adding a little more time on the treadmill or doing a few more situps each day is how you GROW. But, it's tough. There are tons of excuses that appear to be bigger than the end result of getting back into shape.

Life is very similar to this gym analogy because there are a lot of reasons to give up sometimes. It's just how it goes & it happens to everyone. You don't have a lot of money or you pick the wrong guys or your car is always breaking down. Once you away from positive thinking for a few weeks, it's really tough to get "back to the gym", or kick your negative thoughts for good. There are tons of people around you who seem to be living a dream life (like the insanely fit people at the gym) and it can be again, discouraging.

It takes a strong person to live a happy, rewarding life because you have to say no to things that might make you stray away from your goals for a period of time. You have to keep going even when you don't want to. You have to work at it every single day. You have to re-wire your brain to say no to excuses and stop creating them, even though our society instills them in us. Even if you miss a few weeks, you have to push yourself to get back on track. So if you are reading this and you're off track, no matter if it's a week or a month or five years, start small.

Go for a walk or think about things you love (as opposed to whatever problem you are allowing to rule your life). Maybe you really want to start doing yoga but are scared because you've never done it before and you're not as lean as a Victoria's Secret model: watch some Youtube videos and practice in your livingroom. Maybe you lost your job and you've been sulking because you really loved it: apply for one job today online. Or maybe, your husband left you five years ago and you really haven't been the same since. Do one thing today, even if it's just playing your favorite song as loud as you want, that is on the track to living the life you crave. Tomorrow, do it again and PUSH yourself to work out everyday. Remember that it's hard for all of us, not just you. You are actually stronger than whatever is holding you back in this life. It is an illusion that your problem is stronger.

Image via Pinterest

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pittsburgh's "Fashion" Scene Gets (Rightfully) Nationally Attacked By GQ Magazine

by Sarah Davis

Wiz Khalifa might look cool, but do YOU?  The fashion scene in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania gets (rightfully) nationally attacked by GQ Magazine.

There are many things that I love about my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  For instance, I would never touch any ketchup that wasn't Heinz, I love the Andy Warhol Museum, many famous writers are from here (like Running With Scissors' Augusten Burroughs), the Primanti's sandwich is a classic and you can catch me jamming to Wiz Khalifa.  However, when it comes to Pittsburgh's fashion, I only have one word to describe my feelings: MORTIFIED.  Sure, the entire city doesn't have horrible fashion, for the most part (I mean, I live here, wink) but there are a lot of bad seeds.  So, I was highly entertained to read GQ's description of why Pittsburgh is ranked the 3rd worst dressed city in America. 

"The citizens of Pittsburgh-that hardened, blue-collar town on the banks of the Monongahela River, long ago described as "Hell with the lid taken off"- indulge a style that could be referred to as "Game Day Casual" (or "Meth Lab Formal," depending on your preference.) It stems from their love of a certain NFL franchise and an utter indifference to their personal appearance and what you think of them." -GQ Magazine

Quite frankly, I am really surprised this article was written by a man because it's SO accurate.  However, I don't think Anna Wintour would ever be caught dead trashing people's sense of fashion in Vogue, even using the phrase "Meth Lab Formal."  It's no surprise, however, I think Pittsburgh has some of the worst style, not in America, but the whole world.  I don't own any Steelers attire, any Penguins attire and accidentally picked up one Pirates shirt (that simply reads Pittsburgh) on the way home from a vacation, once.  Now, it's a great shirt for the gym or to sleep in.  I'd never wear it out to dinner.  But, it's not like I would stand out if I did. 

I don't really follow Pittsburgh sports, for whatever reason, but the only way I know something big is going on is because the men in Pittsburgh usually have MAXIMUM facial hair.  Gross, but it's my only way of knowing that something is happening in the world of Pittsburgh sports. 

It's just a really sad city because the default fashion trend is something black and yellow.  (Cue: a bunch of "drunk" people slamming back shots of something cheap paired up with cheap beer that sorta tastes like water screaming because Wiz Khalifa's Black & Yellow has just come on in a crowded bar. Picture them yelling, "Yinz want another shot?") Or, everyone else is copying off of what they see in music videos or on their favorite TV show. 

If there weren't other cities in the country, I would probably conclude that I was a pretentious bitch because you will never catch me trying to fit in with Pittsburgh style.  It's not even about what you're wearing, it's about how you are presenting yourself.  The girls here, with their "I rep Pittsburgh" top, sweatpants they slept in the night before, hair up and a "I go to Hollywood Tans this much because I don't give a f$%# if I die young" tan.  Everyone just seems to want their personal choice in clothing to say: "Don't f $#@ with me, I've been through more than you" (like Pittsburgh is the worst "hood" in America) or "My football team is better than yours."  A lot of overcompensation?

Even if you're offended by that stereotype, you have to realize that it's true and that this is one of the only cities with such ridiculous aversion to fashion.  They're trying harder in the country-side of West Virginia. 

chris evans gq July 2011

Um, now here's a man who knows how to dress...Chris Evans (obviously not from Pittsburgh)
                                                       Read the GQ article here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Celebrity Red Carpet Spotlight: Emma Watson

Emma Watson wore a Bottega Veneta gown from their Fall 2011 Collection for the New York Premiere of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2".  The young actress chose dramatic eye makeup, with classic pale skin & lips (which made the bold choice in dress stand out even more).  I think she looks stunning, elegant and very grown-up!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kate's Casual Look: J Brand Skinny Leg Jeans

When the new Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a. the world's most watched woman) isn't sporting trend-setting designer dresses, she's wearing her favorite pair of J Brand skinny leg jeans.  While recently touring Canada, she was seen wearing them three days in a row! See, it's okay to be photographed in the same thing more than once.   

Photo Credits: Getty Images

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Get To Know: Mandy Hale, The Woman Behind "TheSingleWoman" Tweets

Forget Carrie Bradshaw! Meet the real Single Woman, Nashville's Mandy Hale!

by Sarah Davis

I don't when I began following "TheSingleWoman" on Twitter, but every day, one of her tweets inspires me.  Even if I'm not a single girl when reading, something sparks a little happy, calm feeling inside of me.  Her tweets go beyond dating sometimes and send out valuable life lessons through original quotes or quotes from other people.  Behind these inspirational tweets of a real-life Carrie Bradshaw is Nashville's Mandy Hale.  She's affecting millions by sharing her thoughts on dating, encouraging women all over the world to wait for the right guy and to pass on all of the frogs!  She's the cheerleader who also says that if you are single, you don't need to feel bad about it.  I like to think of Mandy Hale as your big sister behind the scenes all day, every day, supplying you with words of wisdom.  If you're feeling down about your relationship status or a guy who is proving himself to be just another "frog", you can check TheSingleWoman's Twitter account and chances are, you'll feel better about your situation. 

Without saying anything else, here's a bubbly interview Style & Wisdom managed to catch with the woman behind your favorite tweets! She opens up about her best & worst dating experiences & why that one ex who broke our heart is SO hard to forget about! Oh, and if you're not doing so already, head over to your Twitter account and follow @TheSingleWoman!

Style & Wisdom:  When & why did you start The Single Woman?
Mandy Hale:  I started The Single Woman in January of 2010, following the demise of a bad relationship in October of ‘09. The relationship was very toxic and abusive – emotionally and physically – and I found myself in a situation I never imagined would happen to me, feeling trapped in the relationship with nowhere else to turn, because of the fact that I had alienated so many of my friends who didn’t want me to be with this guy. I made the mistake that so many women make, which was allowing the relationship to become my ENTIRE life, so even though I knew I had to leave him, it scared me to think of being completely on my own. About two months before the relationship ended, I started praying that God would give me the strength to leave. Ultimately the answer to my prayer came in the most unexpected way – through a wedding! I traveled across the country with my dad to be in a friend’s wedding in Arizona, which gave me miles and miles of time and beautiful scenery to help me clear my head and gain some distance from the relationship. I ended up catching the bouquet at the wedding, which was ironic…since it actually empowered me not to be the next to get married, but to come home and end the relationship and never look back. It was after I became single again that I started looking around for strong, sassy, independent women to look up to; and unfortunately, the pop culture landscape is sorely lacking in those these days. It was then that I decided that since I couldn’t FIND it, I would BECOME it…and The Single Woman was born!

S & W: You inspire women on Twitter and on your website every day, who inspires you?
MH: Everyone from Oprah to Marilyn Monroe to Carrie Bradshaw to Elizabeth Gilbert. I love quotes…from real people, from movies, from fictional characters, from books…I own at least 100 quote books and I am constantly scanning them for inspiration and new writing material. I even have quotes hung all around my house. I think the power that one little nugget of truth can have to meet you right where you’re at and heal your heart or motivate you or make you laugh or make you cry is incredible. I’ve loved quotes my entire life…which is why it seems so fortuitous that I would now be doing what I’m doing. It’s kind of like Life figures out who we are before we even realize it…ya know?

 S & W: Let's talk about a question everyone seems to ask about relationships: why is it SO hard to get over that ex & how do we move on?
MH:  I think as women, we tend to cling more to the idea of someone than the reality of someone. Especially once you get into your late 20’s and beyond – society teaches us that we need to grab on to the first guy that comes along and march down the aisle because it might be our last shot at love. I think we are so afraid that nothing better will come along, we hang onto a relationship long after we should have let it go because we are terrified to lose what might have been our one shot at love. That’s the unfortunate stigma attached to being single that I hope to change. We don’t have to hold onto someone that’s not God’s best for us just because we’re afraid nothing better will come along…because WE are someone better. I’m actually working on an e-book right now that will address this very issue, so stay tuned!

 S & W: What is one message that you really want single women (to all women) to take from you? (If you can sum it up into one message!)
MH: That you are valuable. That you have worth. That your relationship status on Facebook says nothing about your status in life. That just because you’re still single doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you – it actually means there’s something really RIGHT with you. You boldly made the decision to hold out for the best and didn’t allow peer pressure and stigmas and the expectations of others to cause you to settle for less. Keep your head held high…keep doing your Single Woman rock…and fly high, with or without a co-pilot. Wish for love, hope for love, pray for love…but until love arrives…THRIVE! 

S & W: Favorite TV show?
MH:  I suppose it’s a bit cliché to say that my all-time favorite show is Sex & the City…but it is. Carrie Bradshaw boldly went where no woman had gone before, rocked her singleness with pride and took all of us along for the ride. I also was an AVID Dawson’s Creek fan back in the day, am a MAJOR Lost nerd…and I never miss an episode of Big Brother. What’s funny about this list of shows is that I was actually an extra on Dawson’s Creek twice and was a semi-finalist to be on season 2 of Big Brother - which just goes to show that when you follow your passion, you CAN make magic happen. I was so passionate about these two shows, I somehow magnetized my way onto one of them and had a very close call with the other!

S & W: Best thing a fan has ever said to you?
MH: Oh, wow…there have been SO many wonderful compliments from my readers and followers over the past year…it’s tough to narrow it down…here’s one that really touched my heart:

As a newly single woman, The Single Woman helped heal my broken heart. Your tweets are so empowering! Thank you for being my 'sanity'!”
~Danielle Sawaya

I’ve also heard from girls who have ended bad relationships, had the courage to go back to school, and even lost weight because they started following me! It’s so humbling and awe-inspiring to read the comments from my ladies. Getting to speak into their lives every day is such a huge honor, and to know that the words that I say are having such an impact on lives all across the world lets me know without a doubt that I am walking in the center of God’s will for my life. There’s no way my little message could have been carried to the four corners of the earth without a little help from the Big Guy Upstairs!

S & W: Thoughts on online dating?
MH: I’ve never tried it, but I’m not opposed to it. I applaud people who have found their mate in that arena. For me, I tend to be really idealistic and old-fashioned…so my hope is that I will meet my Prince Charming a little more organically…but who knows? I might try it one of these days.

S & W: It's Summer, what's your favorite ice cream or comfort food?
MH: Well, I am a MAJOR Cookie Monster…so bring me anything sweet and I’m a happy girl…but I have a particular fondness this summer for the Rolo McFlurry from McDonald’s. I never even ate the Rolo candies when I was little, but I tried the McFlurry and wow! Pure deliciousness! I highly recommend it.

S & W: Have you ever had a dating disaster? Describe! (We've all had something that scarred us, haha).
MH: I could fill up pages and pages with my dating disasters…haha! Hmmm…let’s see…the one that comes to mind is a date I had just a few months ago. We had a PERFECT first date…had a blast, he paid for everything and was a perfect gentleman, we’re saying our “Goodnights” which end with a perfect kiss…then…dum dad um dum…he asks me for $40. Really?! He made up some ridiculous excuse about having to help his friend get his car out of impoundment…but then calls me an hour or so later after he got home and is eating pizza with his friend. The same friend who didn’t have $40 to bail out his own car but could afford to order a pizza? All I could really do was laugh. It was the “Date That Fell $40 Short of Being the Perfect Date.” Ha!

S & W: Likewise, what's the sweetest thing a guy has ever done for you?
MH: My high school sweetheart, Michael, and I were together for about three years, and right after high school, he joined the Marine Corps, so he was gone all the time. One night when we hadn’t seen each other in about four months, he calls me, and it shows up as a Vermont call on the caller ID, so I know he’s nowhere near home…but little did I know, as soon as we hung up from the call, he jumped on a (very expensive) flight back to Tennessee. I get a knock on the door early the next morning and when I open it, all I can see is this MASSIVE bouquet of roses, and hiding behind the roses is Michael! He had flown all night just to spend the weekend with me. Needless to say, I bawled like a baby. It was so sweet! Such a special surprise.

S & W: Your own words to live by?
MH: “You don’t need a significant other to lead a significant life.”

Photo Credits: Mandy Hale

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Stutter", The Memoir

by Sarah Davis

As I put the final touches on my personal memoir,"Stutter", I can only say that it's REALLY hard to open up about struggles that I have been really embarassed to talk about. I'm not really sure why, but it has always been something that I felt like it would be better to hide, rather than just say, "Hey y'all, this is me & I stutter." The sheer thought of that makes anxiety swell up within all of my veins and I can feel it traveling to my heart. It produces acid in my stomach and I feel like I'm going to be sick. My palms get a little sweaty.

There are no real problems in life, there are only circumstances that push us in different directions.  We're always moving forward (even if we do everything in our power to stay in the same place or look backward.) I feel it's my mission in life to spread these messages:

1. The thing that you think is your biggest weakness is a perfectly chosen problem for you to have.  Overcoming it (or learning how to see it differently and use it to your advantage) can be the greatest thing you offer to other people.

2.  You can create your own life, no matter what happened, is happening or you think will happen to you.  It doesn't matter if your parents beat you as a child, you battle anxiety or your boyfriend is making your life Hell.  You can overcome all of it. 

3.  Don't ever give up on yourself.  There are people who will give up on you, tell you are worth nothing and there are people who will support you until the end.  However, if what's inside of you isn't fully sure that your life is worth fighting for: none of it will matter.  Always have the courage to boldly step forward, even if it looks like you're about to walk straight off a cliff.  (Something good will always catch you and that dude's name is God.)

4. To succeed, it does not mean that you have to do what everyone else is doing! Why try to fit into a mold that someone has created?  I hate public speaking, but by the grace of God, I communicate with thousands of people every single day. 

The only thing in the world that we truly fight for is to feel loved.  People mindlessly search after money or some cure to their problems but the only thing they truly are craving is to feel loved.  It's a powerful feeling to know that no matter how bad your life gets, someone out there still loves you. 

Since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to be just like my Dad.  My Dad is an amazing painter and a great story-teller.  He's a calm man, very artistic, always drinking a cup of coffee and ready to tell you a story about his youth.  Everyone in my immediate family is an amazing, amazing artist (even me, you could say).  My Dad, however, is the best artist I've ever met.  As a little girl, I would listen to his stories and want to tell my own.  However, when I was in elementary school (a time I barely remember at this point in my life), my parents divorced and my Dad left my mother, my younger sister & I.  He was always around in the backdrop of my life but there was a huge void from that point on, mostly filled with my mother's insecurites, mood swings and occasional beatings.  During this time, I went from your average spunky kid with too much Little Mermaid decor in my room to this quiet kid who had to grow up in the fourth grade.  I kept everything in, developed a speech disorder and became terrifed to let anyone know what was going on in my home life.  I was so embarassed; my only wish in life was to have a really nice set of parents at home.  However, my mother hated my sister and I so much that anything I did could set her off and set her into a violent mood swing. 

So, I had to deal with all of this shit.  I was scared to talk, I hated my home life but I was highly creative.  I wrote down fictional stories to try to escape it all and I did artwork because I felt like I had to (mostly in school).  Before I knew it, teachers were informing me that I had this thing called "a speech disorder", which made me so entirely pissed off. 

This didn't really matter until college.  When I left for college, I was READY to leave my bullshit life with a bi-polar mother who hated me and start fresh.  However, public speaking became SO intense for me that I was actually told by a professor (in the Architecture program) that I would be better off in a program that didn't require so much speaking. 

At this point, I was 19 years old and I HATED life.  I felt like things were hopeless and they sort of were.  I wasn't sure how to go through college or hold a career.  So, I gave up.  I did a lot of stupid things to deal with my pain and I drank a lot of alcohol because I had no anxiety or disfluent speech when my body drunk.  I did a lot of soul-searching, a lot of understanding why my father left me in such horrible conditions and a lot of days in bed hoping that maybe I would just die and get it all of over with.  It is the most horrible feeling in the world to feel trapped.  Trapped in your own mind with no support system (i.e. loving parents).

However, eventually, I had to deal with things.  I began writing a book, a fiction novel about a girl named Kat, who had a similar life, full of similar problems and I wrote out ways that she solved everything.  I had to sit down with God one day and say, "Why the F-bomb did you give me such a hard life?" Eventually, that question became "How do you want me to help others with this hard life you've given me?" It wasn't even until recently that I got the answer, which is writing this book about it.  Opening up about stuttering is really hard, but I would hope that all of you would never feel like you can't open up about your problems.  Because we're all struggling.

It's not even saying that I stutter to people that scares me, it's their reaction.  Most people assume I'm less intelligent than I am or they assume I'm intimidated by them (which usually makes me roll my eyes at them). But behind my sheilds of running away from situations that might force me to talk in front of people & my innate sarcasm, I live with an INCREDIBLE amount of anxiety.  Living with a speech disorder is exactly how it sounds: you have to live with it, like it's your husband.  You can never heal from it (or divorce it).  Even if you feel like you've overcome it, it will resurface again.  (Usually when I'm anxious from things like PMS, hungover, starting a new job, or feeling the wrath of someone's harsh words to me.)

I can usually control it (the anxiety- the threshold of stuttering) through diet, exercise, shopping, connecting with others, getting enough sleep at night, etc.  However, if one of those factors gets messed up- I go completely out of whack.  My life is not exactly a routine, boring thing right now.  I'm running this website, starting a new job, writing two books, interviewing people like crazy & I'm in the process of moving.  To top it off, I recently went to the chiro practor complaining of lower back pain, only to discover that I have problems in the back of my neck, which produces pain in the lower back.  I suffered from TMJ for one random year & have had "stress headaches" for about ten years, which come about when I can't get words out.  As it turns out, my head doesn't sit directly on top of my neck.  Great news, right? I rarely fall or have any trauma to the head (for reals), so the only reason that could happen is all of the extreme pressure I put on the back of my mouth when trying to talk.

So, why do I bother to not tell people about all of this?  Why am I just now writing this memoir? (Even though I'm only 25, which a lot of people would say is too damn young to be writing a memoir, but I've had it written in my mind since high school.) Because: feeling different is a burden no one wants to carry around.  Being a rare statistic is not exactly the same thing as wearing a one-of-a-kind pair of Jimmy Choo boots.  Only 1% of the population stutters and only a QUARTER of that percentage is female. I'm in a little bit of different situation than ever before, though, because it doesn't really matter if I have a speech disorder because I communicate with thousands of people through my website.  In turn, that takes a lot of the pressure off of me, so I talk fluently. 

However, I've learned a lot about myself and about life through this talking-disease. Particularly, writing a book about it.  It's NO sob story, even though it's a little rough, very sad sometimes and equally just as ugly (in the ridiculous unhealthy ways I tried to deal with & hide this problem.)  But, mostly it's a wild tale full of all of the things I've learned.  I promise that you can handle all of your problems.  I promise that even if you end up lying in bed somewhere, sick with depression, contemplating suicide, it ain't over! I promise that even though the concept of God is easy to get angry at sometimes because your life can fall into a shitstorm easier than you think, but He is the only avenue to peace.  (And God's definition of peace is more infinite than your human mind will ever be able to grasp).  I promise that you should always feel comfortable to talk about your probems because hiding them WILL destroy your body.  See: my chiropractor. 

Most of all, though, I promise that you are always loved.  Even if your parents don't get you or your boyfriend isn't there for you.  Love is the louder emotion.  It can heal all of your pain.  Even the smallest amount of love can cancel out the extreme pain that arises within a panic attack, or an anxiety attack.  You always have the option to be resilient because you have the Creator of the universe on your side.  I promise you can keep going. 

From, "Stutter" a copyrighted first memoir by Sarah Davis, the Editor in Chief of Style & Wisdom.

"Stutter" is dedicated to the Love is Louder Campaign and is due out in 2012.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Deal With Criticism Gracefully

by Sarah Davis

Dealing with criticism in life can be really difficult.  First off, it suggests that our methods of doing something are wrong while someone else's methods are better.  However, if you can learn to just listen to it, you have an upper hand.  A little known secret about dealing with criticism is that you can just listen to it, take what you need & ignore the rest (gracefully). 

Criticism is like shopping at a clothing store.  There's a lot of crap that won't look good on you, so you only buy what will really make you glow (in your own eyes).  You would never get mad because there are many options that would never work on you; you would just walk past them.  If you waste time getting mad or insecure that people are bouncing criticism at you, you end up wasting time in your own process of growth. 

Always remember that having a negative attitude will always slow you down, never help you out in the long run.  So, deal with the criticism at work or from your trainer at the gym gracefully.  Take it all in, smile and take what you need. 

TIP: Another note is that people do tend to talk TOO much sometimes, so it is a good idea to skim what they say no matter what. Don't just listen to everything you hear.  If you are in tune to your life, you probably aren't wrong and if you are, you'll realize it.  Usually, your intuition is best.  However, you're not the only person living here in the world, so everyone else's intuitions are constantly chiming into yours. 

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Summer Cool-Down

by Sarah Davis

Yes, it's unbearably hot. But, you can still look super cute when throwing your hair up because keeping it down seems like the last thing on the planet you would ever want to do.  Hello, heat wave! How cute is finding one of your favorite scarves and using it as a headband?

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Local Eats Restaurant Review: Elements

by Sarah Davis

Restaurant: Elements
Location: 444 Liberty Avenue (Downtown Pittsburgh)

Cuisine: Contemporary American
Executive Chef: Justin Severino
The Perks: This restaurant has a farm-to-table philosophy for everything they serve & they have a charcuterie menu.

The Review:
I recently had the chance to dine at the new Elements restaurant in Downtown Pittsburgh. I was with a friend & her family (who are from out of town), so we spent a while trying to figure out somewhere to take them. We wanted a place that showed off the city. Initially, we went to an Italian restaurant in Mt. Washington, but when we got there, we found out that there were absolutely no spots open for anyone until the next day. So, off we went to a new place Downtown, called Elements. The Universe knew there was a better restaurant out there than the Italian place we thought would do the job.

We chose the patio seating and the air was beautiful: a warm Summer night around 9pm. The patio was peaceful enough to feel as though you were part of the restaurant, but you could still hear the hustle & bustle of the city just a few feet away.

I have to say that the food was simply fantastic. I haven't been this excited about food since I was working as an assistant at the Market District Cooking School, when I was still learning about chefs put meals together.  This was a time when food made me excited to think about it, to learn about it, to read cooking books & secretly practice how to rainbow-cut an onion at home every night like a pro.  I lost that fire since I quit the Cooking School gig (that intense bright red point of your passion for something), but this meal at Elements completely revived it.  That's how good this food was. 

I chose to order their salmon, which was excellent. I ordered medium rare (the server insisted this was the "Chef's Suggestion" and the dish came out done well.  However, it was still delicious. It was served with polenta (brilliant, creamy enough to be mistaken for alfredo), baby squash and zucchini. All of the flavors just flowed in your mouth.

My favorite entree, though, from Elements was their tuna: I'd have to say that it was the best tuna I've ever had. Ever had, in my whole life. Ordered rare, it literally melts in your mouth. Served with chickpeas and a small portion of hot Italian sausage, it is one of the best dishes in Pittsburgh. Hands down. The fennel was unnoticeable but the tuna was seared perfectly.

The Veal Cheek dish was a little out of the ordinary for me to try. I'm usually apprehensive of eating the facial parts of an animal (yikes), however once I soldiered up, I discovered the most tender piece of meat ever. The ver jus (sauce) that it was drenched in was amazing.  The flavor of the ver jus was incredible.  In fact, my mouth is watering as I'm writing this blog the next day, thinking about it. Our wine choice for the evening was a Merlot with a smoky, spicy flavor to it, which really paired well with the veal. 

Finally, the Ricotta Gnocchi was the fourth entree I tried. The Gnocchi was very fresh, light and fluffy. The goat cheese that it was served with, unfortunately rivaled for the taste. We all concluded that it was not the right fit for the meal.  The Merlot, after breathing for about 25 minutes and mellowing out a bit from the intial spice, also paired well with the Gnocchi. 

Overall, this was an impeccable experience.  Every part of the meal tasted amazing, yet the food did not leave me feeling heavy & lethargic.  Everything was light, but carried the perfect amount of flavor to leave you satisfied.  The restaurant itself is beautiful, the location is perfect & the servers are very knowledgable.  I continue to be impressed with this amazing restaurant and highly suggest it.

Veal Cheek (Ver Jus, Artichoke Puree, Mushrooms, Cipollini Onion, Pine Nut, Capers)
Tuna (Fennel Crust, Chickpeas, Hot Italian Sausage, Swiss Chard, Leeks)

Salmon (Polenta, Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette, Basil, Baby Squash, Zucchini)

Tempura Chocolate Cherries: Chipotle Chocolate, Chocolate Bourbon Ice Cream

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Four Gateway Center
444 Liberty Avenue
To make reservations: (412) 251-0168
Executive Chef: Justin Severino

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