“I want it to feel like you’re at somebody’s beach house.”
Dennis Marron, chef of or, The Whale, is bringing relaxed, beach vibes to Downtown Pittsburgh with the opening of his new restaurant in the Distrikt Hotel.
Luckily for anyone working the grind in Downtown Pittsburgh, a carefree, beach-inspired experience sounds very, very appealing.
The space is a collaboration between main investor Scott Schroeder, and Marron, who previously opened the Commoner Downtown, and is currently working on opening the Merchant Oyster Company in Lawrenceville.
Other members of the team include chef de cuisine Brooks Hart, Jessica Lewis (formerly of Carota Cafe in the Smallman Galley) as pastry chef, and Eric Moorer (formerly of the Sonoma Grill) as sommelier.
After a soft push throughout the month of August, the space is officially open for brunch, dinner, and “in between” bites, every day.
However, the space is technically two separate spaces. The Distrikt Hotel is located inside the former Salvation Army headquarters, and or, The Whale, the main dining room, is the building’s former basketball court, which features two levels of seating. There is also a separate cocktail and raw bar, Evangeline, named for the former women’s residence, and located on the second floor of the hotel.
That means that no matter your craving, and no matter the time of day, it’s likely that either (or both) spaces will be able to satisfy your needs.
Starting at 7:00 a.m., Evangeline opens as a Grab & Go bar, serving handmade pastries, fresh juices and coffee. Daily brunch at or, The Whale begins at 8:00 a.m., making it one of the first restaurants in Pittsburgh to serve brunch seven days a week.
Items on the brunch menu include Savory Bubble Waffles (a corn meal waffle with bacon, fried egg, sausage, crisp potatoes, hollandaise, and Paul Family Farms’ maple syrup) and Steak + Eggs (two fried eggs, wood-fired bavette, hearth-roasted vegetables and fingerlings, chile hollandaise, and chimichurri).
A brunch favorite of Marron’s is the Eggs Chesapeake, made of a crab cake with a poached egg, old bay hollandaise, housemade english muffin, and farm greens.
For that tricky gray area between brunch and dinner, or, The Whale is serving “In-Between” bites. Items include Octopus (wood-fired, grilled scallion chimichurri, nicoise olives, arugula, and peewee potatoes), and Escargot with herb butter, and challah toast.
The upstairs cocktail area, Evangeline, opens at 4:00 p.m. The space serves as a premier cocktail destination.
The house cocktail – and star of the show – is the “Smoke Show,” made with Knob Creek Rye, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Cocchi Dopo Teatro, Bittercube Cherry Vanilla Bitters, Copper & Kings Absinthe, and Cherry Wood Smoke. Yes, real smoke.
For those who don’t feel like venturing into or, The Whale territory to grab a bite to eat, Evangeline offers a seafood, raw bar, and small plate menu. Highlights include the oysters and clams – brought in daily, and an expertly-selected cheese board.
Dinner services at or, The Whale begin at 5:00 p.m. Dubbing itself “Farm and Fisher to Table,” the restaurant is an old-school seafood and steakhouse, but with modern elegance and flair.
The restaurant features a butcher room with a dry-aging cabinet (with a glass window so guests can check on their steaks). Steak and chop options currently on the menu include New York Strip, Rib Eye, and Bone in Dry Aged Rib Eye, as well as Heritage Pork Chops and Lamb Chops. Menu items are sourced from sustainable and humane local farmers.
The dinner menu is as large as the restaurant’s concept inspiration (which takes its name from the original subtitle of Moby Dick). Comprised of many dishes, everything is broken down into four chapters: Loomings, Chowder, Nantucket, and the Ship, all named after chapters in the Herman Melville classic.
Guests should keep an eye out for the Cod Chowder, with Atlantic cod, sunchoke, potato, bacon, and leek, and the “Duck, Duck, Goose Burger,” made with a ground duck patty, duck confit, seared foie gras, arugula, and charred red onion.
Living up to its ocean-centric vibe, or, The Whale is also serving everything else under the sea – literally. From Chapter 4: the Ship, guests can order different seafood “towers,” and enjoy oysters, clams, shrimp, crab, mussels and lobster tail.
or, The Whale is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
or, The Whale (463 Boulevard of the Allies)