Bar Buddies: Umami

The previous writers of this section were somewhat unavailable this weekend, so I, very excitedly I might add, took on the mantle of being your bar buddy this week. After getting a "hell no" to my idea of reviewing William Penn Tavern, I went out to grab a drink with a couple of friends in Lawrenceville, at an Izakaya (Japanese Pub) called Umami.

The Location: Umami is located off Butler Street surrounded by many other bars and attractions and the area is happening but not too loud. I don’t think there are any good ways to get there by bus — your best bet is to drive or uber there.

The Drinks: The best word to describe the drinks at Umami would be "interesting." The drinks all reconcile with the theme of the restaurant — that of celebrating Umami (savory) flavors — and have names such as "#GodzillaTears" and "Panda Panda Panda".

I had a drink that was off their regular menu and was primarily a combination of Suntori Whiskey and Yuzu. I wouldn’t normally put whiskey and yuzu together but I enjoyed a break from the normal, and delighted in having the opportunity to savor a novel drink. My friends tried the Tickle ‘n Giggle, which consisted of Pop Rocks, Leblon cachaça, basil, coconut lemongrass nigori, and lime. They didn’t enjoy the drink much, which they said tasted like everything and nothing, but had a lot of fun eating the pop rocks that came with it.

The drinks were all between $9 and $12, so not terribly expensive. You probably don’t want to go here to have a regular cocktail but if you’re in the mood for trying something new, this is definitely the place.

The vibe: Umami has the vibe of a modern Japanese restaurant — it supposedly also has amazing sushi, which being a vegetarian I can’t comment on. It’s dimly lit with red lights thrown in certain places giving it a very dark anime kind of vibe. Once you enter, you have to climb up two flights of stairs to walk up to the bar. The bar was full (possibly because it was a Friday night) but there were tables around the open kitchen, which is where my friends and I sat. The music was good but they didn’t play it too loud. The place as a whole was conducive to having a chill but meaningful conversation with a couple of your friends.

Lit or nah: It was definitely lit, but in a very adult, "I want to sit, have a drink or two, and talk to my friends" kind of way. If you want a break from your traditional Pittsburgh bar scene, and try something new, you should definitely give Umami a shot.