Monday, May 16, 2011

Venti's Cafe

(Please also read Part 2 -- September 2011)

Venti's is a cafe and basement bar located in Salem, Oregon. They serve regular plate lunches (meat and vegetarian) with rice, noodles, or extra vegetables. You may also get entrees in a wrap instead (rice generally included in the wrap).

Photo courtesy of Mister Critic
I have tried several dishes from Venti's: For the carb-conscious, you can either: (1) ask for all veggies instead of rice or (2) turn your entree into a salad, both for a small price increase. For the health-conscious, you can also substitute brown rice for the white rice for an extra 75 cents. Want noodles? Add yakisoba to the dish for about $1.75 more. Or perhaps you love cheese? Venti's gives you that option too.

The chicken teriyaki ($7 regular; $8.50 large; $8 for wrap) has good flavor and, to me, is your typical chicken teriyaki dish. You can get all-white meat if you are willing to pay another $1.50. I don't think it's worth it to pay the extra dough.

The honey pepper pork ($8 regular; $9.50 large; $9 for wrap) is below-average. The day I ordered it, I found the pork to be relatively flat and on the dry side. If there was any honey flavor at all, I did not get much of it, if any. Very disappointing.

I was excited to try Ruben's Honey Habanero Wings ($8 appetizer), for obvious reasons. I was expecting the wings to have a nice kick to them. Unfortunately, the wings were extremely mild. There may have been way too much honey for the amount of habanero used. I could get a hint of the habanero's fruitiness (so I know it was in there), but when you advertise a dish with the word "habanero" in the name, follow through and make sure the spice is noticeable. Maybe it's my masochistic side talking, but I want to feel pain on a dish like that.

In my opinion, the food is also overpriced for the amount of food and the quality of food you get. It did take a while on a busy Friday night to get my food. Understandable, to a certain degree. I would have hoped the server could at least let us acknowledge my table to show I have not been forgotten in the mass of humanity.

But things aren't all bad for Venti's. At the downtown Salem location, I like that you have three options: take your meal to go, dine in an informal restaurant setting, or dine in a bar-like setting downstairs.

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