The Grand Concourse

Preparing an omelette for last night’s dinner summoned a memory of brunch with my Pittsburgh pal last year. She understands that I often select restaurants based on atmosphere rather than the promise of a good meal. Luckily, Pittsburgh’s Grand Concourse lives at the happy intersection of amazing atmosphere and delicious food.

This Pittsburgh landmark is located in a 1901 railroad station built by the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. Friends, this is now one of my favorite restaurants anywhere.

The 80,000 square foot building was brilliantly transformed into a restaurant in 1978. The stained glass vaulted ceilings are magnificent. Marble columns look substantial. A grand staircase is, well, grand.

Even the hallways and restrooms are lovely with mosaic tile floors and exquisite woodwork. It’s no wonder this building, with its Victorian and Edwardian styles, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

We sat in a space that I believe is an enclosed porch, giving a terrific view of the outside world. There was some kind of fitness expo happening in town that weekend so we saw plenty of fit people walk by and even engage in some kind of bizarre bridal shoot for an extremely sculpted couple.

Meanwhile, I thoroughly enjoyed my brunch buffet and had a selection of small desserts. Fitness modeling is not in my future.

They have lunch and dinner menus, offer takeout, and host Sunday buffets as well as special buffets for holidays like Easter and Mother’s Day. Reservations are recommended even for a regular day. The prices are higher than a lot of restaurants near me but the food is better quality than your typical sit down restaurant and I was pleased with the value.

We saw people in all manner of attire but it feels like such a special place I was glad we dressed up a bit. I hated to look like too much of a hillbilly tourist in such a nice place so I made just a few photos. Besides, pictures really don’t do this building justice.

There’s something about this place, about the light and air and that makes it feel different. It feels timeless yet old, fancy but comfortable.

It’s a study in contradictions.

At one point, I found a settee near the buffet and simply sat down to absorb my surroundings. The late morning sun illuminated the stained glass and the air was filled with the murmur of conversation and clink of silverware. Servers scurried by with purpose while guests wandered about, making impossible choices from the buffet.

I swore if I turned quickly enough I might glimpse a Victorian couple or a traveling salesman with a trunk full of samples in tow.

This was a delightful experience and one that I would repeat if given the opportunity. Want to learn more and perhaps admire the menu? Click here to visit their website.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Station is one of those New York landmarks that everyone should experience at least once.

Built between 1903 and 1913, it’s a National Historic Landmark located in midtown Manhattan. We have Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to thank for that landmark status as she was influential in the declaration and in saving this incredible building from the wrecking ball in the seventies.

You’ve likely seen it featured on tv shows and movies.

Grand Central covers 48 acres with platforms that serve 43 tracks for passenger train service. There are also a variety of stores, restaurants and event spaces.

Step inside the main concourse and you’ll find a sea of humanity zig zagging every which way. In fact, a staggering 250,000 people commute through this station every single day.

There’s an iconic information booth in the center with a four sided brass clock that I completely forgot to photograph up close.

This space is cavernous and seems even more so when you look up at the fabulous ceiling which features a highly stylized star map.

The experience was even more special this time because it was all decked out for the holiday!

It’s a sight to behold even if you just want to step inside for a minute and look around. We were there to visit Summit One, an observation tower attached to Grand Central. We also had a quick breakfast here and shopped a pop up Christmas market. Stay tuned for more on our trip through Summit.

Here’s one more picture – one of many soldiers we saw.

It was a gentle reminder that not everyone makes it home for the holidays and to be grateful for those who serve our nation.