Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pittsburgh Coffee Crawl: Oh Yeah!

Oh Yeah! Ice Cream Bar and Coffee Pub
232 S. Highland Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Phone: 412-253-0955

Last night, the Tuesday crew chose the new Oh Yeah! Ice Cream Bar and Coffee Pub as the destination for mid-week merriment and de-stressification from the arduous life of law school.

Oh Yeah! is in a two story house (it's situated on the first floor). You walk up the stairs to the porch and into the wide-open door (it was warm last night). The walls are covered in burlap coffee sacks, hung like artwork, with a smattering of paintings. Its somewhat tropical ambience is supported by the patio tables, complete with open umbrellas, that are the only source of seating other than the retro bar stools near the espresso bar. I also liked that Oh Yeah! supplies a few rows (and stacks) of well-loved books for cafe reading, from Simpsons comic books to Jonathan Swift and John Steinbeck to Gilbert & Sullivan's (opera libretti!)! A rather eclectic selection to choose from.

The main draw of this place is that they tout the use of almost exclusively local and organic products. They serve a variety of ice creams (with vegan options) with a TON of available mix-ins. The ice creams are products of Woo City, an Ohio company that makes hand-packed ice creams, sorbets, and frozen tofus (or "woo fu" as they call it) using all organic ingredients. The cream used to make the ice cream comes from grass-fed Amish cows, making it, supposedly, a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Great! Ice cream is now healthy! Ice cream flavor choices included Amaretto Peach, Guinness and Bass flavors, and Grasshopper, among others.

The coffee, though obviously not locally grown, is locally roasted at La Prima in Pittsburgh. The cafe also sells baked goods and other products of local businesses. Pretty cool, in my opinion.

In the interests of giving Oh Yeah! the proper review, Karl and I were forced to try the ice cream, though the rest of our group stuck to the coffees and teas. I got a small scoop of the Malted Vanilla Woo Fu (which was, I learned later, a frozen tofu -- NOT ice cream!) blended with habenero pepper powder. The scoop + blend costs $2.75 (a bit pricey, if you ask me, but probably worth it considering the organic ingredients and hand-packing). To create my blend, the barrista scooped the ice cream into a cup, sprinkled the powder on it, and then used a Matrix-like drill to blend it: this is not your average Blizzard machine!!!

I know, I picked a strange combination, but sweet and spicy is probably one of the more overlooked taste combinations. In retrospect, I should have mixed the habanero with either the regular (albeit sugar-free) vanilla ice cream, or possibly the 5-star Chocolate ice cream. It was still pretty delicious, and I didn't even notice that I wasn't eating ice cream (which is kind of incredible).

Karl got the Caramel Bourbon Vanilla ice cream blended with candied ginger. I'm sure it was delicious, but for some reason, the taste of my ice cream made the Caramel Bourbon Vanilla taste like dish detergent. Karl verified the effect after tasting mine, so I know the ice cream doesn't actually taste like dish detergent. Just be forewarned in the highly unlikely event you try to have both at the same time...

We also tried the espresso ($1.85), which was really pleasant, even as it cooled. The acidity factor was pretty low, but the espresso was dark and rich and really well-balanced. This was no stomach-eating Starbucks espresso, that's for sure.

One weird quirk: the bathroom door is a one-way mirror. So you can't see into the bathroom, but you can watch everyone while you go! I have severely mixed feelings about this, but I applaud Oh Yeah!'s attempt to liberate its customers a little.

I'll definitely be going back, especially once it warms up a little bit.