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On Centre | Centre Region: Happy Valley Culinary Week offers chance to break out of dining rut

It’s good to try new things — an expression that doesn’t often fare well when it comes to food.

After all, at just three square meals a day, who wants to run the risk of being disappointed? The prospect of wasting precious time, money and calories on a meal that doesn’t satisfy just isn’t that appetizing.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, relying too heavily on ham sandwiches or PB&J to fill that hole in your stomach.

Happy Valley Culinary Week has provided people the chance to shake up their dining habits, an opportunity that will continue into the weekend.

Visitors at each of the 18 participating restaurants can peruse a special menu of lunch and dinner options, including selections of starters, entrees and desserts, all for a flat price.

“It’s a great way to get people to come to town in the summer,” Mike Hughes, co-owner of Rotelli, said.

Rotelli assembled a list of new dishes just for the week, which Hughes said has seen a bump in patronage.

He sees Culinary Week as a way to lure people to the restaurant’s entire menu using a few well-chosen specials.

So far, new dishes such as the salmon salad and the five-cheese tortellini are front-runners in the race to become permanent fixtures on the regular menu.

“We’re getting rave reviews on them,” Hughes said.

Over at The Corner Room, an emphasis was placed on crafting a menu that showed a different side to the restaurant.

“Oftentimes people think of The Corner Room and they just think of the traditional hamburger,” assistant general manager Liz Pierce said.

There’s a chance that perception could change after this week. Pierce said there has been an increase over last year’s Culinary Week attendance.

“It’s been quite successful. We’re really happy,” Pierce said.

To find out more about what’s on the menu at participating restaurants, visit www.visitpennstate.org.

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