West Branch, Tom Valenti's new Upper West Side restaurant that is two years in the making, opens tonight. The space has 170 seats, a sidewalk cafe and bar, and though it has tablecloths, the place skews more casual/brasserie/gastro-pub than fine dining. Valenti tells us it's unfortunate that after two years of planning he's opening up into a recession, but apparently the plan was always for a moderately priced spot with a big bar, flat screen TV, and the like.
We'll come through with the full menu later, but Valenti describes it thusly, "The food decisions were driven by what we felt at the time were the things we love to eat, and try to wrap it up in one joint....Fish n' Chips to Foie Gras, Oysters to Burgers, Roast Chicken to Pot au Feu, etc." As for early reviews, F&W has a write up on the friends and family and they are already fans.