Business Travelers: Do you recommend Valanni for
Walked into Valanni on Tuesday 3/13/2012 about 8:15 PM, sat at the bar and ordered a drink and asked for a dinner menu. Not too crowded with lots of seats available. The few people there began drifting out, sounded like they had been there since happy hour. Tuesdays in general are an easy night in most places to get a seat at the bar for dinner.
Valanni has been around for a while, since 1999, and the food is always good. The location is on a happening little strip of Spruce Street close to several other popular restaurants making the street scene enjoyable. The front of the restaurant opens up, floor to ceiling, to the street with a large sidewalk seating area.
I order the Grilled Merguez and the special Hawaiian Wahoo over polenta. I’ve learned from past experiences to order each course separately while sitting at the bar to eat to avoid having the plates come out too quickly. The strategy worked. The lamb sausage was delicious with lots of onions which I particularly like. It was served on a “stylish?” long, thin plate (10 in by 2 in?). Every time I tried to eat a bite some food some slipped off the plate onto the bar. Despite the mess it was very tasty. The fish was great as well, flakey white fish cooked perfectly and yummy polenta.
I like the bar at Valanni because it is almost perfectly square, about 8 seats per side, so every point offers some view. Bars in the center of the room work well bringing the bar patrons into the restaurant instead of facing the wall. Unfortunately lots of Philly real estate is long and narrow making this setup difficult to achieve. Valanni’s bar does have several structural obstructions which make some seats a little Siberian-like but there are plenty of goods seats if you choose carefully. I sat at the back wall giving me a view of the entire bar and most of the restaurant out to the street. Probably the best bar seat in the place. Other patrons were friendly although not many there. Bartender was friendly and attentive although three beautiful girls walked up to the bar distracting him a little. One small television, so if you go to watch TV your seating options are very limited and you might have competition selecting a channel. No TV on tonight. They seem to put the TV on for major sporting events but I’m sure they would accommodate requests.
Food was very good, bartender nice. I rate the place 4 stars really because of the square bar. I’m very partial to this design and it really draws the bar eater into the restaurant.