Or, the Whale

4.1
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630 Reviews
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$31 to $50
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American
or, The Whale is located in the former gymnasium of the Salvation Army building giving the space its distinct look and feel. The track above the gym floor was transformed into catwalk seating and upstairs bar. As you travel down to the lower level you will enter the main dining area with the open kitchen, a window into the butcher room and a small wine cellar that doubles as a private dining space. We use the freshest and sustainable seafood, humanly raised beef, poultry, pork and lamb. Dry aged steaks, pork chops, and whole fish and lobster will be wood fired on a 6 foot wood burning grill. Reminiscent of the classic East Coast seafood houses and steak houses recreated to fit modern times. A fun relaxed atmosphere with a touch of sophistication. A strong cocktail program, well rounded craft beer list, well curated wine program with all the big reds for your steak and complex whites to compliment all the seafood you can handle.
What 630 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.1based on recent ratings
4.1
food
4.3
service
4.2
ambience
3.8
value
Noise · Moderate
67% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OT
Pittsburgh
5 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall2food2service3ambience2

I had reservations. I arrived 15 min early and the restaurant was only 1/3 or less full. I was asked to wait to be seated because they had breakfast tables to turn over. Not a big deal given I waited under 10 min but it was odd. The brunch menu is very limited. I should have checked it ahead of time but saw mostly pictures of oysters on the site and just made reservations. The crab cake sandwich was bland and not with $16. Also, ketchup in Pittsburgh is Heinz. Whatever is ketchup there is an interesting enough sauce but not ketchup.

JM
Pittsburgh
5 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Very nice, really good food. Pricing was very reasonable.

OT
New England
19 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Food was soooooo good. Get the lobster bisque. Service was just as wonderful too. Thanks for a great meal.

Or, the Whale
Responded 2 days ago

We are glad you enjoyed your meal with us, hope to see you again soon!

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RH
Pittsburgh
2 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall3food3service4ambience3

Over priced for the value. Had a tomahawk pork chop that had way too much fat.

OT
1 review
Dined on November 1, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food and atmosphere. Would highly recommend!

P
Philadelphia
1 review
Dined on November 1, 2019
Overall2food3service4ambience4

I'll try to be fair here, as there were high and low points of our recent visit to Or, the Whale.
Great / Liked / Enjoyed:
- Good wine selection
- Great management; helped very much to alleviate issues we encountered
- ABSOLUTELY THE BEST oysters I've ever had in Pittsburgh
- Scallops were perfectly cooked
- Nice ambiance / setting.

Issues / Areas for improvement:
- Oysters took so long that management apologized and comped them (proactively, I might add...we didn't complain). They claimed it was because they were training a new raw bar employee (which is an odd choice on a busy Friday night...)
- "Market Fish" in the Fish Stew is not the "Market Fish" entree on the menu. Very disappointing and misleading.
- Asked specifically if there were onions in the mushrooms side dish; was told explicitly that there were not. Sauteed onions were visible throughout. Were taken off the bill, but still...
- Food came out lukewarm, not hot. Especially noticeable with the lobster bisque, which was otherwise very good.
- Bar was mediocre at best. Bartenders (2) were not attentive at all, despite the bar having a total of five patrons (of which, we were three). Very little knowledge about what types of liquor they even had. Drinks were OK, just painfully slow to get. They seemed to be moving in slow motion.

Wasn't the worst experience; certainly wasn't great. With so many other options in our great city, I probably wouldn't go back.

GF
Orlando
2 reviews
Dined on October 26, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Good food!

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on October 26, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great experience. Will be coming back. I wish I could remember our waitresses name because she was excellent and even laughed at my boyfriend’s corny jokes. Also, food was delicious.

RG
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on October 16, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience4

Not crowded and able to carry-on a normal conversation. Highly recommend the stew!

FC
Pittsburgh
9 reviews
Dined on October 15, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This restaurant is a hidden gem (literally) - but once you realize it's inside the Distrikt Hotel, you will be most pleased with their offerings. A small but unique space, the seats are cozy and intimate. We thoroughly enjoyed our meals - the Lobster Bisque (a creative twist on this classic dish with couscous and fried lobster) and a Salmon with Roasted Red Pepper sauce. The cocktails are deliciously prepared with fresh and interesting ingredients. And, our server was knowledgeable and attentive. Would highly recommend for everyday dining or special events if you're in the downtown area.

P
1 review
Dined on October 13, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food always. Service is perfect and cocktails are wonderful. Breakfast is very good too. I am looking forward to my nest meal there.

OT
Pittsburgh
1 review
Dined on October 12, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience4

Delicious food and great service!

T
Washington DC
18 reviews
Dined on October 11, 2019
Overall3food3service4ambience3

Over priced, menu is limited. Food is above average, totally not worth the price.
Service was good tho.

D
Pittsburgh
15 reviews
Dined on October 11, 2019
Overall2food3service1ambience1

We sit down and wait for our server. After 10 minutes no one shows at our table, in spite of several servers standing around by the kitchen. We finally catch someone's eye who comes over, and goes away to find our server. When he arrives "I wasn't aware....

Takes our drink order, another ten minutes pass before they show up. The server apologizes. Goes away, finally comes back and takes our order. Unreasonable lag for salads to arrive, he apologizes again. Lag and entrees arrive, cold. Wait after finished eating cold food, he arrives "I was busy explaining the specials to the other table". Finally get the check and escape.

The restaurant has no acoustical treatment what so ever. Can't carry on a conversation because the conversation from two tables behind us is bouncing off the wall and fully and clearly audible at our table.

There are so many great restaurants in Pittsburgh, don't waste your time or money on this one.

LW
Chicago
1 review
Dined on October 6, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great service and the food was fantastic. The raw oysters were fresh and great.

MH
New England
1 review
Dined on October 5, 2019
Overall1food1service2ambience2

Easily the worst meal I have had in Pittsburgh over my last 10 visits. Here are my issues:

1. Wine I wanted was unavailable. Suggested replacement that we went with cost $80 and was a $19.00 bottle. Really a 300% markup?
2. Over cooked shrimp cocktail and tasteless cocktail sauce.
3. Under-cooked and cold $53.00 filet mignon ordered by two people. Sent back to reheat and came back dry.
4. Overcooked salmon for the third person.

We ended up taking home most of the three dinners ordered as we lost our appetite during the dinner. I definitely expect much more if I am going to spend over $300 for dinner for three people.

TA
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on October 2, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Our first experience in Or the Whale was great. I had for a started Grilled caesar salad which was fantastic. Just forget everything you know about caesar salad and try this one . It was well thought and I will order it again next time. For the main course I had the Fish Stew which included all kinds of seafood and fish in red sauce and toasted baguette on the side. Again, it was full well done with creative thought. My husband ate the hamburger which was juicy and made of high quality. he liked his order very much. I love when restaurant make a small gesture on birthdays/anniversary and offer a special little attention such as a small desert or a drink but although they knew we celebrated a birthday they did not make any effort to make this day special. Rather than that we loved everything and we are planning to come again .

JP
Pittsburgh
4 reviews
Dined on October 2, 2019
Overall2food1service4ambience5

The ambiance was very cool, fun atmosphere. The food was just meh.

LZ
Pittsburgh
1 review
Dined on September 29, 2019
Overall2food3service1ambience2

We were a party of 4 and shared some of the dishes. Shrimp and octopus from appetizers were overcooked. Duck was not well prepared. The mussels were delicious and the whole fish and fish stew also. The main problem was with the service. The waitress didn't care to accommodate request to avoid certain ingredient and served the dish that was cooked with it. She also "was unable to find" black tea in the kitchen. Nevertheless, included it in the bill. Was pretty indifferent to the diners experience overall.

AM
New England
1 review
Dined on September 21, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We had an incredible experience! The food was indescribably delicious, and Caitlin was a thoughtful, kind, and attentive server.

PH
Pittsburgh
9 reviews
Dined on September 21, 2019
Overall2food2service2ambience3

When everywhere decent was already booked and "Or, the Whale" had plenty of openings, we probably should have been more wary. As lit fans, the restaurant's name appealed to us--pretentious, sure, but unique! Unfortunately, the food was not that unique, and the value for service and food combined were exceptionally poor. Atmosphere: When we arrived, we were shown to a very small table for two. We asked for a larger table, and the host thought this was not possible, as the restaurant was "very booked" that night. A quick check of my Open Table app revealed that, in fact, was not true. A manager or other employee did come shortly and reseat us at a larger table, informing us they had another party who needed that precise table in just under 2 hours--no problem, we'd hurry. When we left in just under 2 hours later, the restaurant was still largely empty. Decor was interesting enough, with ropes everywhere, but there was really nothing special about the decor, tables, silverware (2 forks, 1 butter knife, nothing fancy), plain linen napkins, etc.

Menu: Very limited drink menu. Specialty cocktails listed were pretty standard, and we were informed immediately that one was unavailable. Very, very limited wine list. Zero NA beers offered, which was a real shame, as more and more restaurants of all calibers now offer multiple NA options, including craft NA. Or, the Whale, most definitely does not.Our waitress was new (had been there for about 2 weeks, she mentioned) and was a bit stiff and pretentious--I have had significantly more friendly and caring waitstaff at restaurants throughout the city, ranging from Altius and Le Mont and Monterey Bay to Eddie V's and Eddie Merlots. She informed us they had one of the best steak and seafood menus in the Burgh... I am not sure if this was compared to McDonald's or what, but there were truly not many options--on the menu, or unlisted specials. No true sides, $5 charge for plain butter & bread that was mostly dry. Try elsewhere!

CA
Pittsburgh
4 reviews
Dined on September 15, 2019
Overall2food3service1ambience2

We were there on a Sunday evening, and the service was really bad. The first server was really sweet, but knew nothing. She had to deflect every question we had to someone else. At least 5 people came to our table at one point or another, and each had no idea about what the last person did or said. We ordered a cheese plate that was supposed to have 6 cheeses and it came with 3, plus some salami that we didn't want. We asked a server and they then brought a plate with the same 3 cheeses and no meat. The rest of the food was just ok for the price, which is quite high. Maybe we got the C team that night, but I can't recommend this restaurant.

OT
Pittsburgh
2 reviews
Dined on September 9, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Andy was great loved dinner and a good time

S
1 review
Dined on September 8, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Fantastic place, and server was extremely knowledgeable about pairing of food and menu items

OT
Richmond
4 reviews
Dined on September 8, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Family brunch

JI
Atlantic City
1 review
Dined on September 7, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Everything we tasted was delicious, and our server Micah was outstanding. Wonderful meal all around.

F
Cincinnati
15 reviews
Dined on September 7, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience4

Family get together. Great menu and great food. A bit overpriced.

AS
1 review
Dined on August 31, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

very friendly staff especially when my little sister asked what the waiter would recommend - the $53 Filet or the $23 hamburger

DL
Chicago
10 reviews
Dined on August 31, 2019
Overall3food3service4ambience3

Bisque was good but got cold. Should be poured into a warm bowl Vegetables not cooked. Service was good. Wines by the glass were expensive and small pours. Breads and desert were great. Server was very nice.

J
Pittsburgh
12 reviews
Dined on August 30, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

It was the best food I have had in long time!

a
Pittsburgh
4 reviews
Dined on August 24, 2019
Overall4food5service5ambience5

our server was very good and knowledgable. our food was excellent and portions were good except for the octopus appetizer (too small for the cost). drinks were great too

OT
Philadelphia
9 reviews
Dined on August 23, 2019
Overall2food2service2ambience3

We sat at the bar before dinner, the bar was empty, the restaurant as well. Service was slow considering no one was there.
I felt the food was overpriced considering the quality.
I ordered the lamb dish which was highly recommended by the waiter. The waiter asked me how it was and I responded that it was not as he described so he offered to bring me another dish and a complimentary dessert. The gentleman working the front of the house brought me the salmon and explained there were many complaints regarding the lamb and it was going to be taken off of the menu. Why recommend it?? Ordered a dessert...was charged for it. Won’t return which is a shame, I stay at the adjoining hotel frequently.

w
Pittsburgh
7 reviews
Dined on August 21, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience5

Food was fantastic. I was late to the party and my original order of the octopus had run out, but I was not disappointed with the lobster bisque.

OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on August 18, 2019
Overall5food4service5ambience4

We went for a business brunch. Staff was attentive and helpful. The food was delicious and we even got complementary cookies on our way out.

GT
1 review
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience4

Excellent restaurant, but I would not again pay what I paid for what I received.

j
Denver
2 reviews
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall1food1service3ambience2

This was a major disappointment with the hot food scene in Pittsburgh Food was pitiful salads and main courses that were cold The aged porterhouse was $65 with no sides 70 % fat Aged where ?Hope they make it but not with this performance Wow BAD Amateurs

L
Pittsburgh
1 review
Dined on August 16, 2019
Overall2food1service1ambience2

Was excited to try this with three other friends and was very disappointed.

MC
Pittsburgh
1 review
Dined on August 15, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience5

Atmosphere was very cool & food was tasty. Waitress was friendly enough. We went specifically for restaurant week & were overall pleased. Would likely come back.

OT
Pittsburgh
5 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

It was a great dining experience. Food was amazing. We will be back

SO
Pittsburgh
7 reviews
Dined on August 12, 2019
Overall3food3service2ambience3

Arrived at restaurant on time, to be greeted by a hostess with an attitude. She had shown us a table next to where it was evident a large group was going to be seated (8-10) and we asked if she had something else. Her visual signs said she wasn't happy with us, and she made us wait while she strolled around for 5 or more minutes and then she seated us at a table that had been available the whole time. Our waiter, Andrew, was adequate, and warmed up as the meal went on. We ate off the Restaurant Week menu which offered a nice selection. Didn't really get a choice of desserts, just got what they gave us (bread pudding). Regular menu had one or two items that were different from the usual fare, Lobster thermidor looked good.