The Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh University Place in Oakland is turning green (and red) for the holidays with the return of its Whoville holiday pop-up bar. The restaurant and bar areas have been magically transformed into a “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” wonderland of festive lighting and decorations. Much like a holiday lights themed attraction, but better with Grinch-themed cocktail and food menus.
On Thursday’s opening night event, servers dressed in colorful holiday dress passed samples of Whoville’s special menu. Sampling selections included: Roast Beast, Mt. Crumpet Meatloaf, Martha May-ple Chicken and Waffle Sliders, and Dead Tomato Flatbread. A few items not sampled that looked creative were Grinch Fingers (breaded, fried dill pickle spears) and Who-Mus (house-made garlic hummus), Who-Hash (crispy Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, potato gnocchi, crispy bacon, and brown butter sauce), and the WhoBris-Ket Burger (premium blend of Angus brisket, short rib, and chuck on a brioche bun with applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onion, cheddar and Barba-Who sauce). Everything was very tasty. And of course for dessert, the main feature is Who-Pudding (decadent spiced date cake, sticky toffee sauce, and whipped cream).
To aid in the suspension of disbelief is the Who-Libations menu. I decided to try The Grinch (“Green and tart as the Grinch, this melon martini comes with its own cherry vodka heart”). It was sweet and came with a little red gummy heart on the rim. The second cocktail I chose, Max’s Mule (“Spiced apple whiskey and ginger that’ll give you all the strength you need to pull that sled”) was a little more savory. It was finished with three fresh cranberries and a sprig of rosemary. Both drinks were fun and delivered a punch. Bartender Mikey Flair is a sensational bartender, shaking cocktails in fun holiday attire and offering drink suggestions. A female bartender had on a Santa Claus red suit and black belt and buckle.
Hilton Garden Inn’s restaurant’s General Manager Jill Curry was dressed as an adorable Cindy Lou Who with high blonde braided hair. And one of the staff was styled in a Grinch costume and hooded mask. They brought a lively green energy to the character. All the staff were very friendly and having fun. DJ Joe Costa was generating the holiday tunes.
Additional themed elements include a Whoville Family Living Room, Grinch’s Lair, and other movie set recreations. Life-size wooden characters from the movie provide an exciting setting for photos.
The Hilton-Garden Inn’s Whoville pop-up bar will be open nightly, from 5 p.m. to close, through December 23, so steal away for a little holiday fun of your own. Reservations suggested for six or more. Kitchen closes at 10 p.m. (412) 683-2040. 3454 Forbes Ave., Oakland.
Story and photos by Rick Handler, executive producer of Entertainment Central.