Thursday, October 8, 2015

Valanni Review

The GF used to live on Spruce Street, so we'd often walk by Valanni but never felt the urge to stop by. That being said, it's owned by the same proprieters of two other popular Spruce Street productions - Mercato BYOB and Varga Bar, Valanni differentiates itself by offers flavors that lean towards Mediterranean and Latin.

Tasting Menu [$50 pp] 

Normally the chef's tasting is $50 pp, but when I saw that Amazon Social had this advertised for $73 for 2, I jumped all over it. 

Rock Hard Mojito [$10]
Bacardi rock coconut rum, fresh lime, splenda, club soda 

The GF went with a drink off the skinny coktail menu. The "rock hard" mojito actually wasn't that bad, with the coconut rum providing a nice foundation, though Splenda was clearly apparent. That's not such a bad thing though as I find mojitos to typically be too sugary. 

Caipirinha [$9]
Pitu Cachaca, lime, sugar stick

I went with the Brazilian classic - a nice balance between tart, sweet, and citrus. 

White Mussels 
Smoked chorizo, cilantro, mint, roasted corn broth 

Succulent, plump mussels were immersed in a deliciously sweet corn broth. There were plenty of roasted con kernels which provided a nice balance to the smoky chorizo. The grilled bread was perfect to sop up the broth. In fact, I could have used more! 

Spicy Pulled Chicken Empanada 
Manchego, cilantro, chipotle-horseradish aioli

The spicy pulled chicken empanadas were crusty and crisply fried, with tender bits of chicken within. 

The chipotle horseradish aioli could have used a bit more bite from some additional horseradish. Still, it made for a decent dip. 

Crispy Shitake Polenta 
Sauteed shrimp, warm feta, pine nuts, roasted tomatoes, pesto

The shitake polenta was deftly fried, with bits of earthy mushrooms interspersed throughout. Tender sauteed shrimp and warm, salty feta came on top, along with a nice pesto. Pine nuts provided some richness and texture. 

Baked Brie 
Grand Marnier-soaked cranberries, pears, hazelnuts

It's hard to screw up baked brie and this was delicious. Sweet, creamy brie came with Grand Marnier-soaked cranberries, pears, and hazelnuts. Perfect to top the buttery, well-seasoned bread. 

Roasted Mushroom & Butter Bean Salad
Arugula, lemon thyme vinaigrette, shaved locatelli

The butter beans were creamy and provided some substance along with the earthy mushrooms. The bitter arugula was dressed well, with the accents of shaved locatelli providing some additional salt to each bite. 

Fontina Stuffed Meatballs
Garlic sourdough, fresh basil, roasted garlic, charred tomato marinara

The meatballs were presented in singular form, but based on the number of dishes, one was enough. The meatball was well-seasoned and moist, with fontina oozing out. The marinara was subtly sweet and I couldn't say no to more of that great grilled bread, perfect to sop up the remaining red sauce. 

Broiled Tilapia 
Garlic mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, lemon basil beurre blanc

The tilapia soaked in the flavors of the lemon-basil butter sauce, though the mashed potatoes were a bit grainier than I'd like. I like the briny hit of the capers though, along with the texture from the asparagus. 

Rigatoni Bolognese 
Beef, pork, and veal ragu, rosemary, thyme, parmesan cream sauce

The Parmesan cream sauce rendered this pasta dish hearty and hefty. Though the rigatoni were just a tad over, the ragu married well with the rosemary and thyme to create a satisfying bite. 

Oreo Beignet

The deep-fried oreo had a wonderful cake-doughnut crust. The vanilla bean ice cream was a a nice pairing, along with the caramel which provided additional richness. 

Chocolate covered espresso beans, shaved chocolate

Just a singluar chocolate-covered espresso bean, but no matter. This tiramisu was great - moist almost to the point of being soaked a la tres leches. A wonderful bite to wake up and cleanse the palate. 

Overall, Valanni hit the spot and was a steal of a deal with Amazon Social's offer. I'm not going to lie - with the white leather coaches and lounge setting, I didn't have high hopes for the food. But consider my expectations exceeded, with minimal missteps. 

Disclaimer: This is for a visit over a year ago. Posts are backed up and I'm working through them! Thanks for your patience.  

Valanni Restaurant and Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato