NOTE: Please also check out our supplemental April 23rd update to this review of the “The Valley Inn”; We’d appreciate it if you’ve actually eaten at the Valley Inn if you’d add a comment and shared your experience. Will you be going back or was once enough?
===== Original 2014/February Review ============
In mid January of 2014, the owners of the upscale Oregon Grille took over and re-opened the historic Valley Inn on Falls Road in Brooklandville.
The initial “soft” opening is limited to a re-furbished “pub” which has an attractive, clubby feel to it with a mix of booths and high tables with stools. Handsome handcrafted wood tables as well as wood paneling add to the atmosphere. We were surprised to find it swamped on a Thursday evening with hordes of upscale Ruxton and Brooklandville “over 50” customers (For the next month or so before a formal dining room is added, the dozen or so tables/booths in the pub look like they’re in demand so making a reservation is a good idea!)
The current one page menu is limited with a half dozen starters (most $6-$15) and a dozen “plates” with sandwiches and wraps (most $10-$12) as well as some much pricier entrees ranging from a crab cake ($18) to crab imperial ($23) to an 8 oz tenderloin ($34)
We decided to start by sharing an order of the “Chicken Drummettes” with a different garlic parmesan finish. They proved to be good!@ (So good that we never got around to taking a photo of them! But Trust US! They were good (if albeit on the small size and pricey considering that 9 drumettes ran $12). Compensating was a bowl of awesomely good blue cheese dressing for dipping them in that had chunks of blue cheese! (we came close to licking the bowl clean!)
Deciding what to order wasn’t easy – after considerable deliberation (and while Marty sipped on his $7 gin and tonic and Tom enjoyed his $4 wheat ale…), Marty decided on the Crab Cake platter ($18), Tom opted for the Valley Burger ($12) and John decided on the “field & stream chef salad” ($14)
Marty was pretty impressed with the crab cake (a mound of virtually solid crab meat) but was disappointed that it only came with cole slaw. In response to his request for some bread, he was given crackers (well, upscale thick crackers but saltines by any other name – or packaging – are still saltines, right?) Tom and I confess to having had a “That’s an $18 platter???” moment while Marty waxed philosophically and opined that crab cakes tended to run pricey
Tom’s burger looked pretty good (and arrived cooked medium as requested) with cheddar cheese, fries and a pickle! (Tom maintains that the burger at the Towson Tavern – while an eye brow raising $15 – remains the best burger that he’s had in greater B’more)
John’s salad was impressive with the quality of the ingredients – it included a small mound of crab meat, some prosciutto, several big chunks of Valderon blue cheese and some high class olives. He had trouble deciding between the blue cheese or raspberry vinaigrette – our wonderful attentive and friendly waiter Kevin solved the dilemma by providing both. With great components, the salad left him with a good impression and deciding that the salad was worth the $14 price.
Our waiter tempted us with desserts – but we found the idea of $9 for a dish of ice cream (which felt extravagantly pricey no matter where it came from) discouraging and the three of us decided to share a $6 ice cream waffle sandwich. The waffle cut in half and not warmed up was less than impressive looking (though tasty); the chocolate chip vanilla ice cream was good (but left us certain that no way was this ice cream worth $9!)
All in all, we enjoyed our visit to the Valley Inn (while the upscale prices though had us wondering if it shouldn’t have been re-christened “The Oregon Valley Inn” <Wink>) Service was attentive, the atmosphere was congenial and the initial food offering seemed promising. The host shared that the owner had hired a new chef who was coming up with a new menu in time for the opening of a formal dining room later in March (We’re hoping that some of the “under $15” options manage to stay on the menu!) In any case, it will be interesting to see how the new Valley Inn matures and evolves.
FACTS: The Valley Inn; Brooklandville; 10501 Falls Rd, (410) 828-0002; full bar; very limited vegetarian options; adjacent free parking; open 7 days a week for dinner starting at 4:30 pm; reservations are a good idea if you don’t like waiting 30-60 minutes or longer for a table!