Before we saw the Indigo Girls, Terry and I had dinner at Venus.
It’s at 2327 Shattuck, a narrow red-brick-walled space with about fifteen tables and a big window overlooking the street. Out front, the name is spelled out in what looks like hammered copper against dark wood framing, and the menu display is a lyre-shape in the same metallic material, only silvery.
Everything on the menu looked appealing, but the most attractive was the roast chicken. Then a woman at the table next to me ordered it, and it looked and smelled every bit as good as it read. The next time I’m there I’m going to order it.
The night of the concert I wasn’t that hungry, so I had the mushroom crostini and a spring lettuce salad. The crostini had a perfect blending of flavor and texture; the earthy-woodiness of the mushrooms and the bite of fresh new asparagus contrasting with a creamy lemon ricotta cheese spread that was tangy, not sweet. The bread was crusty and chewy, but could be cut with a fork without spraying mushroom shrapnel everywhere.
Terry ordered the spring vegetables with risotto, which came in two thick disks, golden brown on top. Everything looked fresh, as though it had been picked that morning. She had a glass of red wine (I don’t remember the name) that complemented the dish very well, she said.
The salad was nice, with some tasty baby radishes, but nothing special.
If you want special, though, let’s talk about their desserts.
Terry ordered the fresh strawberry gallette, fruit in a warm pastry crust with fresh-whipped cream. Of course there was a decadent chocolate thing on the menu and of course I ordered it; the Schaffenberger chocolate terrine. It also came covered in a fog of whipped cream, garnished with a handful of fresh raspberries, just enough to cut the sweetness of the chocolate. For me this was close to the perfect dessert. It rivaled St Orres’s historic chocolate decadence. We both ordered coffee. It came in tall clear glass cups. This is the first time I’ve had coffee with a head on it. I’m not joking. The coffee is French-pressed, and came with a cream-soda colored froth on the top, along with a pot of half-and-half and a little of turbinado sugar lumps. Terry poured some cream into hers, and stirred, and then poured some more, and then some more, and finally the coffee began to change color. It was that strong. I went through the same process. I should have tasted it before I started doctoring it, but I have the feeling that even though it was mega-strong, there wasn’t a lot of bitterness to the brew.
Our meal was served by a server who was attentive, friendly without being obtrusive and knowledgeable without being snobby.
The place has a cool website, (www.venusrestaurant.net)but it doesn’t put or airs or take itself too seriously. It basically delivers on what it advertises. How often do you find that, these days? I would definitely go back, if only to order the roasted chicken.