Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Venegas Prime Filet - Opening November 20

Venegas Prime Filet will open in Fulton on November 20 -- according to the restaurant's Web site.

Thanks to the anonymous tipster, who also said you can make reservations on Open Table. Venegas Prime Filet replaces oZ Chophouse in the Maple Lawn development. When oZ Chophouse closed in August, there were talks about a new steakhouse from the owners of Jordan's in Ellicott City and Ranazul in Fulton across the street from oZ. Now, Jordan's is closed, and Ranazul's co-owner Carlos Venegas is opening the new steakhouse on his own.

Anyone know if there is a soft open coming in the days before the 20th?

(Update: The first reviews are coming in about Venegas. Please put your opinions on the page with the early Venegas reviews. I'm closing comments on this post so that all the reviews appear together..)

While I'm mentioning the closed Jordan's, I noticed that Bistro Blanc has publicized that it hired four of the top servers from Jordan's. They actually mentioned them by name: Dale Davis, Michael Stagg, Gabrielle Cordone and Robert DiGiovanni. I figure those must be good waiters if they're mentioned by name, and I'm glad that they moved to a good restaurant. Improving service always helps -- especially in light of my last evening at Bistro Blanc where things didn't go smoothly.


Trip Klaus said...

Greetings to Mr.& Mrs. HowChow and all the ships at sea. I appologize in advance for this extended tirade which will cross the lines of many of your recent posts.

First, according to Julie who answered the phone tonight (finally) at Venegas there will be some invitation only soft-opening events prior to the November 20th opening for "the public". Perhaps you can score some invites. I'm hopeful from the menu online that at least they are offering some prime beef. We'll see at what cost.

Second, in relation to the late Jordan's you mentioned the fact that many of the staff have been hired by Bistro Blanc. In theory this was to rectify the many service complaints reported both here and elsewhere. However, given the time the new staff will explain this to you and explain how much better they are. My main problem with Jordan's was it's pretentiousness over performance. These new waiters only bring that impression to Bistro Blanc. It's sad when mere competence is seen as excetional. These new waiters minus the old manager (who has been shipped off) have taken over the dining room, hiring and general smug atmosphere of the restaurant. I've said before that Bistro Blanc's food is my favorite in the county but I don't know that this is such an improvement.

Third, I visited the Azul 17 the other day and I have to say how underwhelmed I was. While the decor is appalling I was hopeful for the food and drinks. I love the movement to using agave nectar and fresh lime juice in margaritas vs. that premade sour mix garbage but Agave and Diablita are both doing this in the city at $2-$3 less. I resent being charged $4 for indiffernt chips and salsa at lunch plus $2 more to taste the habanero salsa that seems to have come out of an El Yucatan bottle. I would rather have any of the taco truck or Shell station tacos than the insipid offerings at Azul 17. Maybe I'm not the target market that will get so smashed on a couple of the overpriced drinks while the DJ pumps out dreck that they won't care about the food. When I went for lunch I was one of the only people there so in theory I can't comment on your post about waits or service. This is my way of finding out about restaurants when they should be at their best not their worst. However, within 30seconds our waitress told us she had been there only a few days and couldn't confirm the answers given to me by the really helpful bartender who himself felt the need to complain about his former job at Victoria's.

Which brings me to a long burning question. Why is it so hard to find professional servers/bartenders etc. in Howard County? Didn't any of them read the 100 things a server shouldn't do on Elizabeth Large's blog recently?

Again, I'm sorry for anyone who finds this too long.

Anonymous said...

There is a soft opening. Not sure when it started, but Venegas was serving invited guests this evening.

Cathy said...

We tried Venegas tonight (Sat 20th.) 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!

Cathy said...

I meant Saturday the 21st! Not 20th.

HowICook said...

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 even if you don’t like them). They had a mix up and we got the saffron risotto (not so great) too. 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.