A long day in Shadyside is sure to work up an appetite. After falling into the Gap, discovering Victoria’s Secret, and Americanizing your Apparel, the Walnut Grill may be exactly what you need. Located on Walnut and Bellefonte streets, smack-dab in consumerism central, the Walnut Grill offers affordable, delicious food in a chic environment. Plus, it’s roomy enough to a hold a day’s worth of shopping bags with enough space left over for waiters to get by.
Visible from the street, Walnut Grill’s stylish hanging banners connote a contemporary, upscale environment, and the inside upholds this expectation. The restaurant offers a cheerful view from the second story of its building, just a floor above Shady Grove, the restaurant’s casual counterpart and bar. Metallic sculptures of trees and chandeliers with lights shaped like leaves create a charming, outdoorsy environment — no flyswatter required. There are several spacious booths, as well as a few large circular booths, that look cozy enough to make you want to grab your eight best friends and take them out to dinner. On top of that, there’s enough interesting art on the walls to fill the lull in conversation between appetizer and entrée.
And you’ll want both an appetizer and an entrée. The food is healthy and upscale enough to impress your parents, but also cheap enough to satisfy your friends. Overall, the menu is loaded with delicious-yet-nutritious items like sun-dried tomatoes, portabella mushrooms, red pepper hummus, and avocado, but meat-lovers need not fear: The menu includes a $25 filet mingon, a $19 10-ounce sirloin, an $8 8-ounce Angus burger, as well as a host of other delectables catering to carnivores. For those of us in the middle, there are plenty of chicken dishes, plus a refreshing selection of seafood that may well curb a craving for a Showcase Salads crab salad.
Appetizers are $5 to $12, ranging from French onion soup (the menu advertises it as “bubbling with provolone”) to bruschetta to seared ahi tuna. Entrées, pasta included, are $12 to $23, and each comes with a salad and two side dishes (French fries, mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes, wild rice, or ratatouille — for those of us Pixar fans). For something lighter on your stomach and wallet, the sandwiches, wraps, and burgers are only $7 to $10 and each comes with a side. Starting at $5, salads are likewise intriguing, and the Red Roquefort salad, if you don’t get to it the first time, may warrant a second visit. A list of 17 mouth-watering martinis may have those of us under 21 cursing the fact we’re not in Canada, and the list of standard (although scrumptious) desserts may have to do instead.
Walnut Grill is open seven days a week with a lighter lunch menu and brunch on Sundays. With such reasonable prices, you should have enough left over to shop until you drop — or at least until you’re ready for dessert.