Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I headed to Valente's in Watervliet recently to take advantage of a gift certificate and treat myself to a dinner prepared by someone other than myself.  The place was unexpectedly busy, seemed like for the staff as well as for me.  After a couple of moments, I was greeted and seated, comfortably in a booth.  I kind of knew what I wanted when I arrived thanks to a lengthy study of the menu online: an order of steamed clams ($8.25), a Caesar salad ($8.95), and their award winning Perfect Storm Mac and Cheese ($23.95), with lobster and crab.  I saw the "table talker" promoting Cupcake wine and decided to jump in with two feet - one moscato, please!

The clams were good, maybe 14 or so on the order.  I had one or two that would have benefited from a rinse off, but basically, and in a perfectly basic way, they were exactly what I wanted. Plump, tender and accompanied by a puddle of butter.  Served simultaneously with the clams was my Caesar salad.  Although I had asked for some additional anchovies, they were forgotten.  Because they were busy and there was a decent fish flavor in the dressing, I didn't bother to request them again.  No worries. Nothing special either, but I've had worse.

I watched virtually everyone depart with a box of leftovers.  And they looked heavy.  I knew I was going to have a similar future since I had over-ordered to be able to use the restaurant.com gift certificate that required a $40 check.  Oh, don't you worry.  I can eat. The Mac and Cheese was huge, easily enough to feed 3.  It was creamy, piping hot and sharp in a really pleasing way.  While there certainly wasn't sufficient shellfish present to enjoy some in each bite, in no way did I feel denied. I only ate about a quarter of the portion and I was staying on my game plan - which was maintain room for dessert.

Despite the fact that none of the evening's dessert offerings were made in house, I went with the carrot cake.  It was a fair representation of carrot cake - moist, iced with cream cheese frosting and a size that was shareable. Except, I was dining solo so I ate the whole damn thing myself leaving the inferior whipped cream on the plate as a testament to my willpower.

Overall impression?  A pleasant dining experience that doesn't blaze any culinary trails, yet provides a comforting repast.  I'd go back - especially since I noted that Mac's Drive-In is right on the way and I've been meaning to get there for some ice cream.

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