We had reason to make a couple of trips to Pittsburgh this summer and that gave us the chance to finally eat at Quiet Storm. Just North of Shadyside is an older, middle/lower-middle class residential area where you can find the vegan and vegetarian café at 5430 Penn Ave.
With kitchy table and hanging lamps, Quiet Storm generally has a diner feel to it with a hodge podge, artsy, retro twist. Not everyone’s gramma is going to feel comfortable the with tattooed and pierced staff but I assure you they are friendly, accurate and know their vast menu backward. They also know how to hustle! Both of our visits had a steady flow of customers, all were being served healthful amazing meals at lightning speed. Both days we visited were Saturdays and we ordered from the Brunch Menu.
The first time we visited we were already full from a snack at a Juice Box Café but couldn’t resist ordering the Cheesy Snake Sandwich and a cup of the Tomato Florentine Soup. It wasn’t until weeks after I ate my sandwich I realized it was a play on the name “Cheese Steak,” it was all vegan ad really tasty. The vegan pimento cheesy spread was nice and that is where I had the pickled onions last and couldn’t get them out of my head before I made them myself.
The portions are generous and prices are rock bottom for some of the fastest veggie food I have ever had served to me. The customers are mostly college age (students – profs) but some young families come in too. Kids are welcome and readily accommodated with high chairs and menu choices. The all vegetarian menu has icons to choose from, v= vegan and gf = gluten free. Ask for the password and you can hook up to some free Wi-Fi as you try some of their awesome coffee concoctions listed on the big board over the counter.
On our second visit we purposely went hungry and ordered a variety of good foods. We starting with the Chilled Orange Soup (pictured above in slideshow). I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe something with a weird orange juice concentrate flavor but this summery chilled soup was a delight! The fresh orange flavor brightened up the carrot puré just enough to keep us dipping our spoons in as we smacked our lips enjoying the subtle flavors. The little bit of salt and oil suggested a light vegetable broth but the flavors were so well balanced that it was a complete joy! The thinly grated carrot on top stated that it was simple elegance in a plastic bowl. THAT is what Quiet Storm is all about – no pretense, great vegetarian food! I so wish it wasn’t 3 hours from us.
We also split a Graham St. Tofu Sandwich on wheat with Spicy Mayo and a short order of the Buffalo Style Tofu Tenders with Vegan Ranch (both pictured above in slideshow). The acidic scent of spicy Buffalo Style sauce assaulted my nose as the Tofu Tenders made me start to lick my lips. The zippy sauce coated 3 super firm planks of tofu that were seasoned in a way I was glad for the ranch dip and cool veggies to balance it out. Take note that the tenders are oven “fried.” The mini portion was just right for us to split as a second appetizer.
The Graham St Tofu is Quiet Storm’s signature sandwich, named for the side street upon which we have always found free parking. Everything came together; from the pickled onions that teased me into making them to the wonderfully thyme seasoned roasted tofu cutlets and the fresh tomato and greens, they all danced on a pleasing wheat bread and dressed themselves in the spicy mayo. A side of corn chips and well balanced salsa made this enough of a meal by itself and we had a hard time finding room in our happy bellies to try it all.
Quiet Storm has plenty of seating at the counter, the dozen or so tables and the additional lounge area from which some happy new age music was being played. It can get a little noisy when full but the ceiling fans keep the temperature even and the whole place is clean. Without frying any of their foods this place has another one up on any diner without that stale grease smell.
Quiet Storm would be my choice of restaurant to frequent, hang out at and fuel myself, mind body and soul. I don’t have to worry about searching carefully through the menu, how long my meal will take nor acting like someone I am not to get better service. Even if I was paying a parking meter I wouldn’t have to be concerned about getting a ticket because Quiet Storm’s service is so prompt. As it is, I much prefer to sit and nibble and sip and enjoy the atmosphere before heading back into an unforgiving and omnivorous world. Quiet Storm let’s me have it all.