I realize it may be less than sporting to criticize a restaurant for its food on Christmas eve, but I put this out there about Valentin o for next year; I certainly learned my lesson, which is stay home. We were only two, we got there early, the restaurant filled quickly, and the service was fine. But my chicken tasted alot like it was a Stouffer's frozen entree. (I know chicken, no matter how good it sounds on the menu, is the weak point on a rushed night, but this did sound good, I was put off beef given the headlines, wasn't in the mood for fish as offered, and we're serving lamb at our house tonight.) The starter, gnocchi in a light basil creme sauce, was passable, but just that. My friend had an appetizer that included rather mealy tomatoes. Her entree was branzino, which she said was quite good, but the artichoke sauce uninteresting. Both of us had the same bleached out selection of "fresh"-ish vegetables as the accompaniment. Wine by the glass ordered upon suggestion of the server, were at best so-so (we had three glasses total.) Breads were excellent (though butter was amusingly stinting.) Dessert, which we shared--neither of us was enthusiastic about eating more--pannacotta in orange sauce, was the highlight, not great, but best of a lackluster meal.
I hadn't been to Valentino's for a long time, but I had remembered it as having really exquisite cooking. I wonder if the restaurant has changed generally, become more casual, or what. (Incidently, our bill for the above was reasonable enough, around $150 with tip, but still not worth it; we weren't trying to economize.) And if this meal was not typical of Valentino, why do this?? This is a holiday, after all, and people seek to have a nice time. What is the point of spoiling it and hurting the reputation of the restaurant in the bargain?