Written by Jess Iacullo
When you hear of Or, The Whale for the first time, you may have some preconceived notions for what the space and menu will look like: a seafood-clad menu, nautical-like decor, maybe even a large mural of a whale somewhere in the space.
But for those that have been familiar with the restaurant, located next to the Distrikt Hotel, you may have your own opinions about what they have to offer: an expensive chop list designed for special occasion dining, limited non-steak options, a restaurant you really only dine out less than a handful of times per year.
But come this September, the team at Or, The Whale is aiming for a different approach to the dining scene in Pittsburgh, especially as the restaurant scene expands by the day. Instead of a meat-focused menu, Chef is emphasizing the heart of the culinary fare of the establishment, like a Lobster Bisque served as a deconstructed two-part dish put together right in front of you, a Lobster Mac & Cheese that balances the perfect amount of creamy cheese and hearty lobster, and a staff favorite of Maryland Crab Cakes served with microgreens and a red pepper remoulade.
The hope with a new approach to dining at Or, The Whale is for the restaurant to come to mind for dining every day, and not just a date-night or celebratory spot. Chef hopes that people will think of what Or, The Whale offers for dinner on a Wednesday just because, and that the more diverse and price-friendly menu will spiral this mindset for those that have dined with them before and newcomers as well.
The glue that helps bind these menu changes together is the close-knit community the restaurant has with the staff. It’s important now more than ever that restaurants can maintain less turnover of their staff and everyone is as familiar with the menus as possible. For both bonding and culinary evolution purposes, the staff has weekly “competitions” where staff members team up to craft new recipes that can possibly make it to the menu. Think Chopped, but Or, The Whale style.
All in all, Or, The Whale is bringing a new elevation to food that is simple and affordable but has just enough of a twist to make it unique and different. Just picture cozying up with a bowl of Lobster Bisque or a skillet of Lobster Mac & Cheese as the fall months turn into winter (AKA that’s where you’ll find me come November).
General Manager: Ryan Gorka. Executive Chef: Eli Decko. Chef de Cuisine: Tim Kratt