At one point or another, there is a need for us to put on the suit and tie and dine to impress. Whether this be for a parental visit on the weekend, or because there’s a cute girl in class you want to ask out, fancy restaurants are a great way to express how much you value your dining partner (or its a great way to “accidentally” forget your wallet when mom and dad visit).
And no, I am no certainly not talking about Chili’s or Applebee’s, not even Red Lobster or TGI Friday’s. I’m talking about some real fancy, dim lighting, casual jazz music in the back ground, non-chain restaurant fancy. (With the tiny artisan breadsticks and everything.) And while there are plenty of fancy eateries around campus, we are going to examine three of them today.
AND SO ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK WE HAVE
The Corner Room – Classic fine dining in State College, regardless of whether or not you have personally eaten here, everyone knows where the Corner room is. Partially due to it’s great location right on College Avenue, partially because of prestige the location holds, the Corner Room is an obvious classic. A State College resident since 1929, the place itself is more history than anything else. Fairly average pricing with a entree averaging around $10 – 12.
2. Spatz – I’m not quite sure how many people would turn their heads at the name, but Spatz is one of the classic Cafe and Speakeasy restaurants on campus. Located almost directly in front of Old Main, Spatz has the advantage of an amazing location right on College Avenue. With a New Orleans themed almost crammed down your throat, Spatz is a popular location with average pricing for dinner ($10-15) and a cheaper lunch menu ($7-10).
3. The Tavern – Easily recognizable on College Avenue with it’s distinguishable sign of a red apple, the Tavern is another classic “dress up” dinner locations. Priding itself on giving their customers a 18th century “Ambiance,” the Tavern is a more expensive but entertaining location for a meal. Slightly more expensive with main entree’s ranging more around the 20 dollar range, the Tavern is more of an experience, but quite an enjoyable one.
1). Spatz –
In terms of enjoyment, pure basic enjoyment of the food, the service and the atmosphere, Spatz definitely won the competition. Of all three option, Spatz is most definitely the most relaxed, while at the same time retaining its competitive edge as a fancy dining experience. While all three restaurants had their own theme, I loved loved loved the New Orleans theme Spatz had going on. The entire diner had a cool jazzy feel to it, and the music was perfect, not too serious and fun. I think that was one of the main reason I loved Spatz so much, both the Corner Room and Tavern made me feel cramped, like I was a kid being told to behave at a restaurant. Spatz made me feel more like I was just having fun with a friend or on a date. It doesn’t hurt that lunch is only 7 dollars for some killer jambalaya. Also, some of the best service I have seen ever, the fact that I can address the staff by their first name after my first time going probably means that they’re doing something right. I think for the most part Spatz is known to more relaxed and fun, the couple of times that I have been, one thing I’ve repeatedly noticed was how the crowds were almost entirely older people, I think I’ve only seen one college age compatriot at Spatz. This somehow made it more interesting, I love it when older couples lock eyes across the room and raise their wine glasses, classy as heck.
2). The Corner Room –
The classic, the Corner Room was a lot more enjoyable than I had originally thought. The food was excellent, a perfectly cooked burger with a side of fries and a coke, it’s down to earth American cooking. The more ostentatious meals that were offered also had great reviews from the people who’ve tried it. It is however more serious than Spatz , which to be honest has pros as well as cons. The Corner room is more of a “plan weeks in advance” location, you can’t just go on a whim like to Chipotle. Going to the Corner Room is as much of an experience as actually eating there, there’s something special about knowing that where you’re going to have dinner that night is the same place people’s been having their meal since the 1920’s. Though the service for that night was a bit lacking, it was partially due to the fact that the day I went was also Thon weekend, huge crowds all around.
3). The Tavern –
Man, what a crazy place. Dim lit, fancy suits and gorgeous dresses. I mean, the candles felt like an over kill but I do have say, great presentation, they’ve hit the 18th century ambiance right on the nose. I half expected to walk out into a gas lamp lit road with horse drawn carriages and everything when I left. This level of atmosphere also meant that the evening was extremely serious, with a hush level of conversation and a lot of confused looks as to whether or not the fork I’m using for the salad was right or not. It isn’t a first date place, I’ll repeat that DON’T take a girl/boy here for your first date. Not the the Tavern isn’t nice, it is a little TOO nice, think more of an uncle of grandparents coming for a visit. Either that or an anniversary, heck the Tavern would be a good “Sorry I did something wrong” type of establishment too. The veal was gorgeous, cooked to perfection, I knew the food was going to be good when I sat down to candles and music but it was seriously good food. The con’s were that the food was expensive and the service was good but long. $17 for a slightly smaller piece of meat and an hour wait made the experience a little worse, but overall it’s an experience I’d recommend.