Off the chain: OTB Bicycle Cafe is good meal for all
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 00:10
You down with OTB? Yeah, you know me.
Over The Bar Bicycle Café, posted up at 2518 East Caron St. in South Side, is a hungry bicyclist’s safe haven: outside bike racks line the length of a parking space, inside the ceiling and walls are outfitted with vibrantly colored bike murals, hanging bikes and other cyclist memorabilia ranging from racing jerseys to bike race bibs.
On first glance, non-cyclists may be threatened to enter OTB. But fear not pedal-less patrons, if you enter, good, cheap food awaits. (Now are you interested?)
The menu has all its bases covered: appetizers, salads, burgers and sandwiches (some paninis, others not). All items are fitted with cyclist-enthusiasts names, from the Spoke Junkie (fried zucchini with three cheese) to The Pedal Pittsburgher (burger with sautéed spinach, fresh buffalo mozzarella, roasted red peppers and Sriracha ranch) to the Pedal Paddle Panini (tomato, basil, fresh buffalo mozzarella and roasted red peppers) and even the Training Wheels (standard peanut butter and jelly) of the Just for Kids menu. Long story short, they have options, be it you’re a meat-eater or herbivore (all burgers can be made with a ground beef, ground turkey or veggie burger.)
I rode down (in a car, not a bike) with three of my roommates Monday to give OTB a test-run. Monday served as a good time to go: from 5 to 10 p.m., almost all of their burgers are $5.
With that deal fresh in our minds, each of our orders boasted a burger, with some variation. I ordered The Fixie, a burger with peanut butter, relish and blackberry preserves, with a veggie burger and pumpkin bisque soup, the soup of the day. My hockey-playing roommate (HPR) ordered The Thick, a burger with Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, bacon and onion rings. Sometimes-cyclist roommate (SCR) ordered the Hard Tail, a standard burger with cheese. Finally, carnivore nursing roommate (CNR) ordered the Dirt Rag Delight, a burger with American cheese, pickles and Wholey’s peanut butter.
While we waited, we enjoyed the atmosphere of OTB and the ‘90s Music Choice they had playing throughout the restaurant. Because who doesn’t love ‘90s alternative.
My soup was the first to arrive and I was ready and waiting. I’m a sucker for pumpkin-flavored things and the pumpkin bisque definitely satisfied my pallete. It was rich and delectable and made me feel guilty as if it was a dessert being eaten before dinner. Much like a pastry or donut for breakfast, you know? Nonetheless, the bowl became empty very, very fast.
Not much time passed before our collective dinners appeared. Our table became almost instantly silent and we got down to business. The Fixie was good, but not great. The veggie burger was one of the best I’ve had in Pittsburgh, but as for the toppings, I could only taste the blackberry preserved and got minimal flavor from the peanut butter and relish. HPR loved The Thick, while SCR was more or less satisfied with his standard Hard Tail. CNR enjoyed his Dirt Rag Delight, with the sweet peanut butter and tangy pickle, although he doesn’t usually like pickles. The fries that accompanied the burger were battered fries, something you don’t see a lot, according to him, which he also enjoyed.
Our collective individual bills ranged from $7.50 for SCR’s Hard Tail and water to $11.62 for my Fixie, soup of the day and $2 Yuengling, so cost is really not an issue.
Go to OTB. Even if you’re not all about hitting the trails on your 10-speed or weaving your road bike in and out of traffic, you’ll enjoy your meal. Besides, when has changing gears ever hurt anyone?