Justin Strong, of AVA Lounge, returns with a new brunch event at Altar Bar | On The Side | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Justin Strong, of AVA Lounge, returns with a new brunch event at Altar Bar

He expects to take on amateur chefs just as often as pros

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Last month, the latest iteration of Justin Strong's AVA Lounge, in North Oakland, closed its doors. But while the former Shadow Lounge owner is spending time doing consulting work and working for his family's longtime dry-cleaning business in Homewood, he's not out of the food-and-entertainment business; he's also running the newly launched food service at Altar Bar, in the Strip District.

Show-goers at Altar can order food from the kitchen, for now mostly concession-style stuff: nachos, fries, the old AVA Lounge "Dip Set," featuring hummus and bean dip. And Strong is heading up a new monthly event at the venue that focuses on food, not music.

So You Think You Can Brunch will bring local guest chefs into the bar's commercial kitchen to prepare a prix fixe brunch for attendees. The first is Fernando Espejel, of Brassero Grill, but Strong says he expects to take on amateur chefs just as often as pros. "If Miss Jenkins comes to me and says she can make a pretty good brunch, I'll say, 'Sign up for April!' And April's guest is Miss Jenkins — let's see what you can do."

It'll all happen in Altar's downstairs "green room" area, accessible via the side entrance. (Party like a rock star!) The $20 admission covers food and coffee or tea; bar drinks will be available for a premium.

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