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Walnut Grove makes the tasty move to Waterworks

| Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009

Walnut Grove isn't really the new kid in town as far as restaurants go, but the welcoming committee in Waterworks Plaza is offering a nice reception to its new digs.

The restaurant was located in a narrow eatery in Fox Chapel Plaza, along with Community Supermarket and Rite Aid. When the former Dingbats restaurant was vacated by yet another barbecue eatery, Walnut Grove -- with its sister restaurants Walnut Grill in Shadyside and another Walnut Grove in Wexford -- decided to upgrade to a larger space in Waterworks, near Aspinwall.

The owners completely gutted and renovated the place into a modern, artsy, upscale space with intimate dining rooms, separate spaces for receptions and cool pod-like round tables that offer private dining for small tables of six to eight guests.

Already the restaurant has an upscale, this-is- the -place-to-be feel to it. The Lunch Bunch crew settled in, scanned the place for any celebs or A-listers and ordered.

We shared a serving of Zucchini ($7) -- long, thin planks of breaded zucchini served with a rich, chunky marinara and ranch dressing. They arrived piping hot and crispy.

We sampled the French Onion Soup ($4) and discovered a rich, dark broth swimming with chunks of bread and bits of sweet onion. A thick topping of provolone cheese bubbled and melted over the crock's sides.

The Caprese Salad ($8) was a small platter with alternating slices of tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella and sprinkled with chopped basil. Keep in mind, tomatoes are long out of season, and these were pale compared with fresh summer produce. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the salad.

The Sweet and Spicy Chicken ($9) caught our eye. We chose to have ours with the fresh vegetables that included broccoli, squash, and green beans. The chicken was sauteed and served with a jalapeno-orange chili glaze. After a few bites, we found the dish to be more spicy than sweet. If you like your food a little on the hot side, this dish is for you.

The Shaved Prime Rib Sandwich ($10) was a great mix of tender prime rib, hot pepper rings, mushrooms and provolone cheese on Ciabatta. As a side, we ordered the ratatouille, a sauteed vegetable mixture of eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and onions.

For dessert, we shared a Creme Brulee ($6). The creamy custard was topped with the traditional carmelized crust. The whipped cream and sliced strawberry on top added the perfect touch to an exquisite dessert.

Compiled by Rebecca Killian, Sis Reola and guests. Meals are paid for by the Valley News Dispatch and are unrelated to advertising.

Additional Information:

Walnut Grove

Address: 1141 Freeport Road, O'Hara

Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Mon.-Thurs.; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Fri.-Sat.; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m. -11 p.m. Sun.

Details: 412-696-0141; or online

Credit cards: All major cards accepted

Smoking: No

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Prices: Pizza, $9-$12; sandwiches, $8-$12; salads, $3-$13

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