Don't Eat at Pinati Apr 22, 2009 2:13 pm | by Anson Wang
As a child I was fascinated with a particular television show: Dragon Ball Z. I looked past the poor pacing, 90's style animation, and lack of storyline because I loved the concept of being able to shoot balls of energy from my hands and flying around at supersonic speeds. Whenever a hero needed to get stronger, he would undergo a harsh training regimen. These training sessions usually took place on planets with 10 times the gravity of earth or something ridiculous like that.
The location that intrigued me the most was always the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. One could train in there for 3 years, with only 3 days passing on the outside world. I have found such a chamber realized in the modern world. It's tucked away in Squirrel Hill, and it goes by the name Pinati. At first glance, this restaurant might appear to be a Mediterranean grill with an emphasis on kosher Israeli food, but don't let that fool you as time slows to a crawl the second you step through the door.
The waiter there cannot handle more than one task at once, so you might as well seat yourself. After you do so unceremoniously, you might take the time to gander at the décor. The walls are painted a sickly red tomato-like color that one can only assume is suppose to be reminiscent of the Mediterranean. If only it was. Random plates and Jewish-themed decorations hang from the walls as long curtains cover the windows, shielding those outside from the view of the interior. Don't worry, since time passes slower in there than on the outside, you'll have plenty of time to observe these details before you finally decide to just steal some menus.
To be fair, initially you might feel bad for the waiter for rolling solo shift that night. But sympathy only lasts for so long. It was at least 40 min from when we stepped foot into this Hyperbolic Time Chamber to putting our order in. Yes, as in, only having our orders taken. What's going on? This restaurant isn't exactly big by any standard and it wasn't even half full.
We eventually realized that our training was beginning: this was a test of patience. Weaker people had come and gone. They could only handle 25 minutes of crappy service before bailing. Not us though, for we were men of determination, honor, and fearlessness. Even if the universe were to rise up against us, our boiling blood would cut through fate itself to eat at this restaurant. Two pieces of pita bread was plopped down onto our table along with a plate of mixed with various sauces and a grunt "here."
The hummus was decent, I'll give them that. However, for some reason, this restaurant thought that Mexican-style salsa fits in with Mediterranean food and that having salsa, hummus, and baba ghanoush together on one plate would be acceptable. What actually ends up happening is the watery salsa residue mixes in with the hummus (the best of the three) and creates a mixture whose flavor can be described as weird. Did I also mention that we got only got two pieces of pita bread? This was for three people.
After remembering that we had ordered an appetizer that had yet to come I realized what was going on: they were doing this on purpose. They must be starving us so the food tastes better. We were the saps that fell into their trap. I just wasted 50 minutes determined to get food at a place that won't give it to me. All those other people who came and went were the smart ones.
Then I remembered the rule for the Hyperbolic Time Chamber: once you go in, you have to train there for 3 years before you can get out. We were trapped by our own pride, our own stupidity, and our own recklessness. Finally, after almost an hour of sipping drinks and crying into my hands, I was wondering how much time had passed in the real world when my schnitzel finally came. It turned out to be an over-glorified breaded chicken breast. My friends both got falafels of some sort, which they finished in record time due to the small portions. If I were to estimate how big they were, I'd say the falafels were the size of my fist..
The chicken breast was overcooked, which makes me wonder how they somehow screwed up frying a chicken breast. My sides of rosemary and thyme roasted potatoes and pastina sounded a lot better than what came out. The potatoes took on a sponge-like texture, but at least the seasoning was there. The pastina, small ball-shaped pasta, had the texture but little flavoring. I didn't bother trying my friends' falafels, they said they were bad and all evidence points to them telling the truth.
When we got the check, we realized that they tried to charge us for the appetizer that never came. Maybe it was on off-day, or maybe this restaurant is just that bad. Forget the 10 minutes of awkwardly standing around when you first get there, waiting to be seated. Forget the pseudo-Mediterranean décor. Forget the other 50 minutes it takes to get your entrees on the table. Forget the crappy bread along with the disgusting orgy of sauces and even forget the appetizer that never arrived. The entrees were simply not up to par with what I expected from a $15 meal. I would hit up McDonald's anytime before coming back to this place.
Pinati (421-422-0404) is located on 2100 Murray Ave.
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