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