Wise County Biscuits is bringing Southern biscuits and local hospitality to Pittsburgh, and this Sunday you’ll have the opportunity to try them at the Union Standard for a special pop up brunch.
The local business was established earlier this year by James Wolfe and Lena Laskaris. The couple, who met in Pittsburgh, recently returned to the city after living and working in Washington DC, and say they’re excited to be joining the city’s expanding food scene.
Wolfe, who helms the kitchen, grew up all over the South. His grandparents lived in Big Stone Gap, Virginia (located in Wise County, nudge, the name of the business), and Wolfe spent summers there, learning to cook from his grandmother. Later in life he went to culinary school, and has been working in kitchens ever since.
Wise County Biscuits is inspired by this Appalachian home cooking that Wolfe experienced when cooking with his grandmother, Sallie. Wolfe and Laskaris started selling their biscuits and biscuit sandwiches at the Shadyside Farmer’s Market this season.
Their menu includes sandwiches like “Sallie’s Snack” with pimento cheese, fried egg, and chow chow, and a standard biscuit & sausage gravy. One of Wolfe’s favorites also one of their most popular dishes.
“Probably our biggest seller is our Greens, Eggs, & Ham,” says Wolfe. “Being a southern boy, I am a fan of salty ham, but Lena has always been a city ham fan. We were able to find, after a lot of research and legwork, a local ham product that is middle of the road. It is dry enough for me, but also cured and smokey. We use that ham, with great farm eggs, and the acidity of the braised greens. It’s all rich, smoky, sweet, and acidic.”
For now, the business has a home base out of the Shadyside Farmer’s Market, with a biscuit-centric menu. Wise County Biscuits sources locally for their ingredients, and focuses on simple and unprocessed products. Everything is prepared as fresh as possible. When ordering a sandwich, the eggs are made to order, and the biscuits are toasted on site.
For the popup at the Union Standard, the menu will be similar to Wise County’s online menu, though they will also be serving two additional sandwiches, made with fried chicken.
One will be a chicken and hot honey sandwich. The other will be named “Mr. Wilson.”
“We had a friend, Mr. Wilson, who loved bacon, pork, and pig,” Wolfe says. “He passed away, and we wanted to do a nod to him with chicken, hot sauce, bacon gravy type of sandwich.”
All sandwiches come with a choice of sides, including heirloom grits, crunchy breakfast potatoes, 5-bean salad, and greens.
Additionally, Sam Sutter, bartender at the Union Standard, will be experimenting with some coffee based cocktails for the event.
The Wise County popup at the Union Standard will be this Sunday, August 6, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. If you can’t make the popup this weekend, Wise County will be at the Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse on the evening of August 13. They are also a staple at the Shadyside Farmer’s Market, held every Saturday morning. “There are a lot of exciting and authentic things happening in Pittsburgh, and we’re excited to be part of it,” says Laskaris.
Eventually Wise County would like to work towards a brick and mortar space where they can offer a larger menu (still focused around first-half-of-the-day cooking), and experiment with things like ham smoking.
Right now, Wolfe and Laskaris are both currently working at the Union Standard.
“We are super grateful for everyone at the Union Standard. If it wasn’t for the management team letting us step away, we wouldn’t be able to explore this interest,” says Wolfe.
For more information, visit the event page.
Union Standard (524 William Penn Place)