Located in the heart of Binghamton’s bustling Downtown, The Grove is a favorite among students and residents — for good reason. Its inviting atmosphere, kind staff and dynamic menu make for the perfect date night, birthday celebration or casual occasion.

For Pipe Dream’s coverage of this semester’s Restaurant Week, Chris, Pipe Dream’s video editor, and I sat down for the $15 lunch menu on a chilly, rainy Friday afternoon. Our server, Emma, was friendly and energetic as she seated us and offered us beverages.

After we ordered two sodas, we quickly scanned the menu. Since we were on the job, we couldn’t indulge in The Grove’s many creative bar options. Emma quickly came with our drinks and took our orders, and we eagerly awaited the first course.

Though it was another cold, gray Binghamton day, The Grove was inviting and warm. With its tasteful decor, bright lights and the smell of food in the air, we were extremely excited to relax after a long week of classes, exams and homework.

Our appetizers — the side Caesar salad and garlic bread with pico de gallo and cheese — arrived promptly. We immediately noted the rich colors and bursting taste, especially that of the garlic bread, which was extremely fresh. The salad’s dressing was smooth and the croutons had a satisfying crunch. Overall, we were both thoroughly impressed and left wanting more.

The main courses were the undisputed stars of the show. Between the crispy onion burger, a fan favorite I insisted on ordering, and the pasta primavera, which piqued Chris’ interest upon first glancing at the menu, we knew we would barely have room left for dessert.

The burger was perfectly cooked and stacked high with its signature fried onions. Perhaps more importantly, its accompanying french fries were crispy yet light and fluffy. Fries are hard to do well, so it was impressive that they rivaled the burger in satiating my hunger. The primavera featured fresh spinach, mushrooms and onions over al dente penne pasta. Its cheese sauce was creamy and rich, though not overly heavy. We finished both dishes quickly, with barely a word spoken in between bites.

As we waited for our dessert selections — a New York City-style cheesecake with caramel and chocolate sauce for me and a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for Chris — we took note of The Grove’s incredible ambiance. The ivy-covered walls, spacious dining area and abundant natural light undoubtedly added to the experience.

Dessert came quickly, capping off an afternoon of great service. Though the cheesecake was a bit too sweet for my liking, the carrot cake was better than expected, with an airy interior and delicious frosting. We would have ordered seconds if our stomachs weren’t so full from the rest of the meal.

A trip to The Grove is well worth the half-hour bus ride — or six-minute drive — Downtown. For anyone looking for a delicious meal in the center of Binghamton, look no further than 65 Court St.