The sign outside the restaurant read, “Our Reuben Sandwich is good enough to go to jail for.” Ridiculous? Silly? A bold marketing ploy? Well…it is said that each legend holds a kernel of truth.
The Reuben Incident
While in the process of committing a few, what might be considered “minor” crimes, a man entered Seib’s Pub one day and sat at a table. After receiving his order, he ran out with the plated sandwich without taking care of the check or gratuity. Soon afterwards the authorities caught up with him driving a stolen backhoe. The world first learned about the incident from newspaper, radio, and TV stories coast to coast, and now from the sign outside Sieb’s Certainly, no other restaurant I have ever visited could make the claim that their Reuben sandwich was good enough to go to jail for. I didn’t know what we were going to discover, but I knew I was going to Seib’s Pub to find out.
Family owned and run since 2004, this restaurant/bar/banquet hall is located at 3382 Babcock Boulevard in Ross Township, a few miles north of Pittsburgh. Babcock is a well-traveled, two-lane road. I consider this a safe area with no shortage of good restaurants nearby. To succeed in the restaurant business along Babcock Boulevard, you have to bring your best game all the time.
A Welcoming Environment
After spending a few minutes finding a parking space, we joined a short line of diners waiting patiently for the hostess. All I could see while standing by the front door was a very inviting bar with a handful of tables to the left and a four-piece band setting up to the right. Small, framed Irish sayings graced the walls; we Irish like our sayings! I caught a glimpse of a few people enjoying their meals. A merry chatter was coming from the main dining area that was located past the band and bar. Soon the hostess greeted us and gave us the option of sitting in the bar or in the dining room. Since I had a feeling this bar was going to get real noisy real soon, we headed for the dining room.
As we made our way through the bar, I realized this was a very “feel good” space. From the soft lighting to the L-shaped bar, this room felt comfortable. For a moment I regretted my decision to eat in the dining area but those regrets soon vanished.
With a combination of booths and tables, and with three of the booths resting on a platform about a foot above the hardwood floor, the designers of this room have added a dimension that gives this well-maintained space a comfortable, home-like feel. Along the plaid papered walls there were more of those cute Irish sayings. The room probably held around 50 patrons.
The Memorable Meal
A few minutes after being led to our table, we were reviewing our menus when a waitress asked if we would like to place our order. Without much discussion, we ordered a small plate of Jumbo Wings and sauces for our appetizers. For our entrees we went with the Shepherd’s Pie and the 12 oz. New York Strip Steak. We also added two salads, choosing beer and water for our beverages. When I visit a place that has a good selection of domestic and imported beers, I have to explore, and I wasn’t disappointed.
I didn’t even try to engage our waitress in the type of conversation that would give me some background information. It was early Saturday night and she was busily engaged. While she answered all my food and beverage questions completely and with a smile, it just wasn’t the best time for me to try to get involved in small talk about the restaurant. It was the perfect time, though, to enjoy our meals. And enjoy them we did. The Shepherd’s Pie, made with ground beef simmered in Guinness and red wine, was a welcome interpretation of an Irish classic. The steak, while being left on the grill about 30 seconds longer than I would have preferred could still only be described as delicious.
While finishing our entrees I wondered how many in this room were regulars and how many were making their first visit. We found out quickly. A waitress walked across the room while heading towards the bar with one of the largest burgers I have ever seen and about 80 percent of the room cheered. We found the reason for the cheer on the menu. It’s the Seib’s Challenge. If you eat a two-pound burger with three cheeses, peppers and onions, fries, coleslaw and a beverage in 45 minutes, it’s free. We’ll be ready to cheer the next time a two pounder comes past our table.
At this point I had a choice to make. Do I finish my steak or do I look at the desert selections? Never one to pass up an opportunity for exceptional sweets, I found that Sieb’s cheesecake and black coffee ended the meal beautifully.
After Dinner at the Bar
While not exactly a complaint, we did find Sieb’s a boisterous scene. The band playing in the background, conversations and laughter generated by my fellow diners, and kids just being kids took the volume up a few decibels. At times it became a little difficult to have a conversation in a normal tone. This isn’t the place to go to have tea and read your evening newspaper. But if the energy of people engaged in good hearted fun and a grand meal are appealing, you’ll like Sieb’s on a busy Saturday night. I enjoyed my first visit and I really didn’t want to leave, so I didn’t. We settled the check and gratuity and made our way up to the bar to enjoy the music and order a few drinks, a house specialty called a Dirty Shamrock and a ginger ale for me, the driver.
Unfortunately, I ended the night without any knowledge of just how good their Ruben Sandwich really is (and our editor has heaped appropriate scorn on me for so doing), but I do know that the wings and beer at Seib’s Pub is a great combo. The mushrooms that they served with my steak could be a meal themselves. The prices and portions were more than reasonable. The folks that make this place work have built such a friendly environment that I predict, after you visit Seib’s once, you’ll return.
Laughter is brightest where food is best. ~Irish Proverb
By Tom Pollard