Recently, I have had the opportunity to take each of my daughters out for a night of food and music in the city. It also provided me the opportunity to try two restaurants that I've been wanting to try. First I took my older daughter (13) to Next, before a concert at the TLA. The restaurant is sparsely, but very nicely decorated, and gives a warm feel. The warmly painted walls and low lighting gave a cozy feel. I also like the fact that it is BYOB. We decided to do the $28, 3 course price fixe dinner option, available before 6:00. The food, while not that bad, was quite underwhelming. My daughters tomato soup, while looking creamy, tasted more like tomato sauce, and was rather disappointing. My green salad was nice but nothing special. Her ribeye steak and frites was tasty, it being well done outside but nicely medium-well inside (how she ordered it). My dish of pork and Chinese sausage sounded intersting. I was pleasantly surprised to find a large piece of pork shank, done in a sweet Asian type sauce. The sauce turned out to be too sweet and cloying and gave the dish an overall clumsy feel. The Chinese sausage were rather bland and tasteless, surprising for a sausage. My daughter loved the creme brulee for dessert and I enjoyed the little French press full of La Colombe coffe. Overall, a pleasant but somewhat disappointing meal. Ac I said, underwhelming.
Valanni is a very nice looking restaurant. Warm colored walls and lovely lighting, and a sexy bar make this a very hip looking place. Here I dined with my younger daughter (10) before a concert at the Kimmel Center. We shared a nice appetizer of Cuban bread salad, the bread covered with cheese and tomato along with greens, olives and orange slices, nice. My daugter wanted the pasta special but doesn't like mushrooms (mushroom ravioli's) so they gladly made it into a fettucini pasta dish instead. It came with shrimp and scallops, which were done well. but overall this was another rather clumsy dish. Not delicate at all, the pasta and seafood was drowned in a decent marinara sauce. Not a bad dish, and my daughter enjoyed it. Being a lover of lamb shank, I ordered this dish. It came with roasted root veggies in a rosemary infused sauce. Having had this dish many times elsewhere (Ben McNamara's at the Dark Horse being the best in Philly), it was pretty good. Unfortunately, it tasted gamey in places, which is unusual in this type of dish. I had a few glasses of so-so overpriced wine by the glass and noted that their wine list was rather uninspiring. We ended with a decent cheesecake and a very rich banana dish in rum. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed herself but again, I was somewhat disappointed, primarily because I was underwhlemed and expected more after hearing many positive reviews.
Would I return to either one? Possibly, but long after trying the many new restaurants out there in Philly.