Uniquely Yinz – the 5300 Butler edition

The 5300 block of Butler St. here in Lawrenceville has always been a bit of ghost town since we’ve lived here. Except for the well-regarded Pusadee’s Garden, a phenomenal Thai restaurant, and perhaps a mechanic or two, the block was composed mostly of abandoned tenement structures and long-boarded up storefronts. Back in the 40s, it may have been a happenin’ place to be, but not in the past few decades, if the paint jobs are any indication.

Recently, that began to change. Businesses have been popping up. I’m sure the rents are fairly low, but I’ve always been suspect that a business could make it “up” there without reasons for passers-by to exit the safety of their cars and start wandering around. But Pusadee’s Garden has stuck it out. Maybe there’s hope for the 5-3-0-0, after all.

The first business that brought me there was Belle the Dog’s vet, the intrepid Dr. Aileen of the Big Easy Animal Clinic. Jean met Aileen shortly after she moved here from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Inside you can see a lot of pics of New Orleans, and we’ll forgive her of a serious Saints fixation. But her practice has been thriving for a few years now. She’s always taken real good care of Belle, too. It’s nice not to have to schlep your mutt out to the suburbs just to get her shots.

Saturday turned out to be a picture perfect Burgh day. Sun shining. Puffy clouds. Temps in the 70s with low humidity. Not a bad August respite after a brutally hot June and July. So, I decided to go check out some of those new storefronts I’d been seeing on the ol’ 5300 block.

My first stop was Wild Purveyors. I’d seen handwritten signs in the window about this place but now they have a real sign and everything. I guess they’ve been providing meat, veggies, and dairy products for farmer’s markets for a while now, but this is their first storefront. The place had only been open for a few days and is still very much a work in progress. It’s a bit dark. (Hopefully, more lighting is on the way!) But the first thing I noticed were the organic mushrooms and vegetables. Each item had a sign with the price and where in SW Pa they were from. The mushroom selection was impressive and scary. (I’m always scared by strange-looking, Dr. Seuss-type mushrooms that look very poisonous but I’m sure are not or they probably wouldn’t be selling them as food.) Then there was the cheese case, artisan cheese from all over the area. On the other side of the room was the meat cooler filled with some strange selections.

That’s right, peeps. Now you can come to Lawrenceville for your goat kabobs and ground lamb. They also offer grass-fed beef, pastured port, free range elk, bison, and venison. I spied some venison sausage in the case. Like everything else in the store, all the meat has its area locale listed. I played it safe and opted for a chicken breast that was representin’  the 17601. (Lancaster county). They also offer fresh raw milk, eggs, and other organic dairy products. I’ll definitely be back for some fresh cuts of lamb.

Next was the Cigar Den. Okay, technically it’s in the 5200 block, but that was a dead area, too. Sammy runs the place and seems like a great guy. He was training a new employee on the register that day. I think her name was “Mom.” The place is not huge but boasts an impressive humidor selection of stogies.

I’m not a huge cigar guy, but I do enjoy indulging on the right occasion. I’m kind of spoiled after buying some Cubans while in Switzerland one time. It’s hard for me to understand why I can vacation at a bed and breakfast in Vietnam but it’s vorboten to enjoy a nice Cohiba from Havana. But I digress. Sammy gave me a full tour through the humidor. He has them arranged by strength, but can also tell you how the flavors differ. I bought a couple regular stogies, plus one infused with espresso and one infused with chocolate. You heard me.

Best of all, the Cigar Den has an actual den. Sammy said folks are welcome to come in, watch a game on the big screen, kick back on the leather couches, and puff away. For a small corkage fee, you can BYOB to make it a real party. He’s got glasses and everything. Just don’t BYOC (cigar). Sammy needs to pay the bills, donchya know. I’ll be checking out the Cigar Den again, for sure.

My next stop was a disappointment. I’d been hearing things about the Allegheny Wine Mixer for a few weeks now. They are supposed to have quite the exotic selection of wines from around the world. They like specializing in wines you probably haven’t heard of before. They have specialty beers, too. So, why was it such a disappointment? They were closed! Didn’t open until 5pm. Why no love for us day drinkers? We need love, too.

Oh, well. I’ll get there some evening to taste of their vines. Oh yes, I will. As it says in Ezekiel, “You will drink it and drain it dry.” So, if it’s in the Bible…. I’m just sayin’.

Well, that was my Saturday afternoon. No compensation was received for my little reviews, but only because it never occurred to me until just now. In fact, I bought veggies and chicken and cigars, so, actually, I paid them. That’s okay, though. I want to see these businesses make it. The 5300 block is hopping, once again. Come on down to Lawrenceville and check ‘em out!

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About carpetbagger

Tom and Jean are just a couple of Chicago transplants in Lawrenceville, a neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Posted on August 20, 2012, in Misc, Pittsburgh and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. The Big Easy Animal Clinic where they love dogs, Louisiana and the Saints. Sounds a lot like our house.

  1. Pingback: Hump Day Hijinks « Carpetbaggery

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