Penn students seldom see reason to venture farther west than 40th and Walnut streets, despite the plethora of affordable restaurants within comfortable walking distance. The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College serves as a perfect example of this tragedy.
Located at 42nd at Walnut streets, its entire campus is dedicated to the art of the restaurateur. There are four majors within the school: Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts, Restaurant Management and Hotel Management. It boasts four restaurants, a pastry shop and bar, as well as six kitchens, all of which serve a different purpose. And you can eat a three–course meal for $25.
A vital component of an education at Walnut Hill College is hospitality, so your waiter will be a student. This makes for an interesting experience—at regular restaurants, your waiter is probably not in the profession because they have a passion for carrying plates. In short, the staff are polite, and they will bring you as many baskets of bread and butter as you ask for. We got three.
We sat in the European Courtyard. Named for its atmosphere, there is a fountain, a high ceiling and string lights. We tried the squid and the lettuce wrap, the Coq au Vin and their suggested Mexican dish. The coq of the Coq au Vin (in french that means chicken in wine) slid right off the bone and was definitely the highlight of the meal. Despite the fancy presentation and the white tablecloths, the food itself was simple. And despite an underdone potato or two, the meal was impressive for both the price and the fact that it was cooked by students. My class assignments never taste this good.
We ordered dessert too, but all the bread, chicken, squid and more bread prevented us from really enjoying the caramel bread pudding and the crème tart. That’s the other thing about The Restaurant School—the portions are not as pretentiously small as you might expect of a place that lays out their food so beautifully. So when you go, pace yourself. Order one fewer bread basket than you think you can handle and hace a few drinks between courses. Your stomach will thank you.
You can also register for cooking classes here. The curriculum includes Comfort Food 101, Date Night: Tacos and Margaritas, Food Trucks 101 and Knife Skills. Prices vary from $45 to $425.