The best time of the year — Restaurant Week — is finally here, and The Grove did not disappoint. On Thursday night, my photographer, Jacob, and I decided to start the week at the Downtown Binghamton favorite restaurant and bar with a three-course $25 dinner.

With the restaurant filled with a mix of students and Binghamton locals, the friendly atmosphere made the night. The restaurant owner, Moe, and our server went out of their way to make sure we were taken care of, and we even became friends with the table next to us.

The appetizers started the meal off with a bang, offering various tasty bar foods, including chicken wings or tofu bites, sliders, fried calamari and a quesadilla. After a pinky promise that we would share, Jacob and I decided on The Grove Slider and buffalo wings. The mini burgers were loaded with fresh vegetables and melted cheese. The meat was well-seasoned and the crunchy lettuce made for a delicious combination. The buffalo wings were very crispy and yet the meat was not overcooked. The spicy sauce tied it all together, and we finished both plates in about 5 minutes.

The starters were great portions, so we were excited for the main event. The restaurant offered a variety of different dishes, including a steak sandwich, a chicken sandwich, pasta primavera, lemon herb chicken and a caesar salad with chicken. Trying to get something new for the palate, I opted for the primavera with breaded chicken, while Jacob ordered the Zinger Chicken Sandwich. The pasta sauce was so cheesy, pairing well with the mushrooms and spinach mixed in. The chicken-to-breading ratio worked well, giving the dish a good balance of texture, and the warm pasta made this a comforting fall meal. Jacob loved the sandwich, feeling that all the elements brought the dish together. The bun was a fresh brioche, and the lettuce, tomatoes and pickles worked nicely with the mayo and crisp chicken. The fries had the perfect crunch, and I think I ate more off of Jacob’s plate than he did. The meal was so rich I had to get a to-go box, but we made sure to leave some room for the necessary dessert.

My favorite dessert is a brownie sundae, so I had to choose the chocolate brownie for my final course. The vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce added a nice touch to the chocolate-ly flavors, and while the brownie was warm, the ice cream stayed intact, which is a sign of a well-made sundae. Jacob got the tiramisu and was pleasantly surprised by how light and airy the dessert was. The espresso flavor shined through, and the fresh strawberries paired nicely with the chocolate powder.

Overall, The Grove was a delicious Restaurant Week dinner tied with a great experience. The people there were so nice, including the entire wait staff and patrons. A dinner out can be hard for a college student, but definitely find a time to treat yourself to a meal or quick bite, as the appetizers and full menu are worth it. In addition, the restaurant has weekly karaoke and bingo, so it is a great spot to hang with your friends. Jacob even took his friends back to The Grove the night after our dinner, and once again, their server, Richard, made their night with his great service and infectious energy. And who knows, if it is your birthday, like our table neighbors, you might get to spin the birthday wheel of drinks.