I'll admit it, I watched one of "those" shows. The kind with the voting, the crying, where only 1 person wins and it's rarely who you want to win. At least that's how it is with many programs in that genre. Yet I decided to give America's Next Great Restaurant a chance after reading a reliable television critic's recommendations. It helps that all of us in the house like Bobby Flay. In my opinion he was the glue that held the show together. Oh and the concept behind the program--the idea of coming up with a new, different and (possibly) healthier casual dining choice.

If you watched ANGR (now there's an interesting ancronym), what was your favorite restaurant concept? I had 2: Harvest Sol and Spice Coast. Their vision of a healthier version of casual dining is a good one. Wouldn't it be great if it could become a trend? Heavy comfort food is okay once in awhile, but it's time for some lighter choices.

When N and I chose to eat at Venti's Cafe for our blood date, healthy wasn't my goal--eating some of their delicious food was. We arrived around 6PM on a Wednesday evening. What a bustling place! We scoped out the available seats before heading up to the counter to order. If no tables showed up in the meantime, there was a spot for two at one of the counters--the basement was packed, of course.

Their menu is so full of delicious choices, it's tough to decide when it's time to order. N ordered the Tibetan BBQ Pork and I picked their Moroccan Chicken with grilled pita. After completing our order, a few members of a family party noticed we were looking for a place to sit and moved over to open up the table for 2 next to their group. So nice!

I've heard the term, "eating a rainbow", and I've even gotten close while cooking at home, but it's only when I eat at Venti's that it becomes clear it's possible to do it and do it well in restaurants. Oh and the Mediterranean flavors they incorporate into their dishes! I love the explosion of spices on the Moroccan Chicken and the sides of tzatziki and hummus to pull it all together. The only thing that could make the experience perfect? A knife to cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. N sat on the opposite side of the table from me, enjoying his pint of Wandering Aengus Cherry Cider and tasty meal. While I sat, oblivious to anything else, making sure my chicken, rice and vegetables came out even with each tasty bite.

I can't wait until their new venue on 2840 Commercial St S, Salem is open. I hope they put photos on their blog to share the transformation of the new place.

Cafe open
11am-9pm Monday-Saturday
12pm-9pm Sunday

Basement Bar open
4pm-11pm Monday-Thursday
4pm-1am Friday
12pm-1am Saturday
12pm-10pm Sunday

Venti's Cafe
Check out their Facebook page here to find out what's on tap
Venti’s Cafe + Basement Bar
325 Court St NE, Salem


Anonymous said...

Love Vents. Num num num. I love everything there. People, food, drink. What a winning combination.

Anonymous said...

My favorite menu items are the sweet potato fries and Greek burger. to DIE for!

jeff said...

Blood date? Is there something we should know about you?

KandN said...

LOL If I recall correctly, my handbook states I must do away with you if I tell you . . .

Anonymous said...

The food is good but overpriced for what you get, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

KandN - love your reviews but wish you wouldn't put the words blood date in a restaurant review.

I know it is a reference to giving blood but any blood reference with food turns my stomach.

just a suggestion. keep up the good reviews!!

KandN said...

Sorry Anon, I'll do my best to keep that in mind next time around.
I have warm fuzzy feelings about donating, mainly because I was the recipient of a much needed transfusion.

Anonymous said...

Their food is overpriced?? Compared to what, anonymous?

Anonymous said...

We'd agree with anonymous above .. overpriced for what you get. We enjoy a good stir fry but at Venti's you get the basic veggies over white rice with dark meat (chicken) at $7-9 per bowl .. if you want 'white meat' or brown rice, etc.. you pay extra.
We don't eat a lot of white rice and would like to see Venti's give another option like cabbage salad. something like Love Love does. Paying $7 for a bowl of white rice with minimal chicken & veggies on top is not bringing us in.
Now their beer selection is terrific and seems very reasonable.

sheepdog- mom

Anonymous said...

Giant mound of rice with some veggies and a little chicken for $9 is steep in my opinion. I do like the food if only the prices were lower or there was a better rice/veggie/meat mix.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the pricing. I work nearby and usually go in for lunch at least once a week. However, they recently increased all of their prices, and have effectively priced me out. They will only be an occasional lunch stop for me anymore. I do like their food, but there are far more economical lunches to be had downtown.