Hi, I've been "lurking" on this board and following your reports on Restaurant Week, so I decided to post my experience at Valanni. Three of my co-workers who are not familiar with the city wanted to go out to eat, so we decided on Valanni since it is so centrally located and it still had open tables for Restaurant Week. We got there at 5pm on Sunday and there were quite a few tables full, but as the waitress predicted, they were pretty empty by 6:30 since most of the costumers were headed to a show across the street. The service was friendly and attentive, but there was quite a long period of time between ordering and the time bread was brought out. Once there, it was OK; the focaccia would have been better warmed or toasted and the bread was "eh". The little tray of pesto, oil, and butter that came along was a good touch.
They had two salads ($5-7 reg)and three soups ($5-7 reg) to choose from for starters. Three of us had the French onion soup, which was good; cheese not cold, but not burnt either, good, sweet onion-y taste. My friend who had the New England Clam Chowder said it tasted good, but was a little thick for her taste.
You could pick anything from the menu except fillet mignon or lobster for an entree. Two of us had the seared sesame tuna ($25 reg), which was a good portion size and came with spinach, mashed, and a red wine reduction. Mine was really good, however my friend's was way past rare and on its way to medium-well. Another friend ordered crabcakes and said that they were made with a good amount of lump crabmeat. The roasted potatoes that came with it looked a little bit like they had been overdone. The third diner had the roasted chicken on fettucine. Not being a very adventurous diner, she said that it was tasty. Portions of both the crabcake ($24 reg) and chicken ($? reg) generous.
We could also choose dessert ($6-8 reg) from the regular menu. Although it took a while for dessert to arrive after we ordered it and even though at 6:30 they were already out of two of the desserts, what we did get was yummy. I had three scoops of Capogiro gelato (blood orange was my favorite), another had the brioche bread pudding, which was a generous little crock of pudding with cranberries and chocolate with an accompaniment of bourbon cream sauce. Another had the key lime tart, which was light and refreshing (but looked like it was prepared off premises) and a third had the tartufo, which also looked ready made, but tasted good.
So, would I go back? Probably not unless I had another case where my dining companions were not from Philadelphia. Since we sat upstairs (Upstares), the view of the Avenue of the Arts was great, so it suited the occasion. However, you can get similar menus at less expensive places all over the city. In short, it was a good value for Restaurant week, but not really at other times.
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