The beaujolais nouveau of restaurant reviews arrived this weekend, and Cathy & HowICook both spent real time to write their opinions -- and even snap cell phone photos.
First, HowICook reports on Venegas meal from beer to dessert. He highlighted that golden chocolate dome, which makes me file a complaint against Venegas about its lighting because the dessert photo looks more like a fuzzy UFO. Clearly, they're not lighting this place to maximize cellphone photos. It's a common failure. I can't snap a single roll
in Sushi King. How can they expect food bloggers to work in these low-light conditions? But enough about me. On to HowICook's comment about Venegas:
I took the family to Venegas Prime Filet tonight, Sunday (11/22/09). Sadly, the tree that was the trademark of Oz is gone and replaced by a modern oversized light. Being a beer guy, they have 4 drafts available with 2 from clipper city which was nice considering Ranazul (owner’s other restaurant just across the street) has none. Beware the price of a draft beer is a bit steep. They served 4 different complimentary breads with honey butter which were all good.
The menu has a nice variety of fish, meat and prime beef. The prime beef appears to be reasonably priced. We ordered the cheese plate (2 out of 3 were special) and 5 entrees (monkfish, rockfish, prime flat iron steak (wow!) with truffle butter (too subtle), citrus pasta & French short rib). All the dishes were nice presentations with nice garnishes. Additionally we ordered the reasonably priced accessories, cauliflower gratin (a really nice puree), mashed potatoes (still not serving the roasted garlic variety) and the brussel sprouts (wow
The standouts were the monkfish, flat iron steak and the short rib (actually a bit too fatty but wonderful beefy taste with nice fried shallots, and ‘to die for’ gnocchi). For dessert, we all got a taste of the unbelievable decadent golden chocolate dome. It too was ‘to die for’. The service was very good and almost too attentive. Finally, I asked the waiter about the chefs and the sous chef showed up at our table. She asked about our meal details (commented on the beef short rib dish being hers from beginning to end) and showed real interest in our comments.
This is a place where you need to savor the details. It’s not the overall great experience they’re striving for yet but if you look close, the details add up to a good experience. Trying to keep costs reasonable, we didn’t try any of the appetizers, soups or salads. Next time, I want to sit in the bar area and order these especially the interesting appetizers. They remind me of Ranazul.
Second, Cathy reports some hiccups on Saturday night at Venegas. Liked the bread. Liked the atmosphere. But nothing really grabbed her.
We tried Venegas tonight (Sat 21st.) Since I was familiar with the layout of Oz, I requested a table that was not near the kitchen on our Open Table reservation Thus, we were seated a table away from the kitchen. Perhaps Open Table does not forward our comments? It wasn't too bad, though.
They were out of an entree and side dish we wanted (chicken, and garlic mash (but they had regular mashed potatoes?) This was an early evening reservation, so not sure why they were out of these common items. Bread was good, and the honey on top of the butter was a nice touch. Atmosphere was decent, more modern casual than romantic. Staff was very pleasant, but I would have expected the owner to visit the tables on it's opening weekend. No personal touch.
Overall, it was an average experience, and there are not enough items on the menu that I personally liked, and nothing really special to make me want to go back. Still looking for a restaurant in Maple Lawn that I want to frequent!
Please do add your opinion below if you have eaten at Venegas. I love that HowChow is a place where people can exchange their views. I'll caution anyone that a restaurant changes over its first weeks and months. But it's still good to know what people are saying . . .