Sunday, December 18, 2011

Venti's Cafe + Taphouse

Venti's Cafe + Taphouse is located on Commercial St. SE in Salem, Oregon. This location opened in 2011 and has over 24 rotating taps for people wanting a great beer selection.

This Venti's location has great ambiance and a pleasant aura to it. I came here with two friends (Cass and Roger) for a late lunch.

I ordered the Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burger ($7.50): a homemade veggie patty made with black beans, cornmeal, and spices, topped with homemade vegan spread (coconut milk and cilantro), with tomato, red onion, Romaine lettuce, and fresh cilantro on a hearty bun. It was served with a green salad (Italian dressing on the side).

Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burger (Venti's Cafe +Taphouse)
Burger assembled
Cass got the Greek Burger ($8): a beef patty with Mediterranean seasoning on a toasted bun with spinach, caramelized onion, tzatziki, kalamata olives, Roma tomatoes, feta cheese, and fresh basil. She also got a salad with mango balsamic dressing.

Greek Burger (Venti's Cafe +Taphouse)
Roger got spaghetti, topped with marinara and shaved Parmesan cheese, with two slices of toasted bread on the side (included salad with Italian dressing). With a beer, his meal came to about $14.

Spaghetti (Venti's Cafe +Taphouse)
The veggie burger was average here. I thought the spice blend on the fragile veggie patty had potential, but ultimately did not bring satisfactory flavor explosion. In terms of spiciness...well, there was none, so classifying such this dish as "spicy" is beyond comprehension. The creamy vegan spread proved to be the tastiest and best item on that entree; the flavor of the coconut milk and cilantro paired well and made the meal that much more palatable. I would have liked the bun toasted for texture contrast. The salad was good and I liked the Italian dressing.

With permission, I sampled my friends' dishes. The tzatziki of the Greek burger was nice, with the dill butting its way to the front of the flavor line. The beef patty was probably just a bit overcooked for me -- and unfortunately on the denser side of the equation. The mango dressing was fantastic, a smile-inducing sweet tone to coat the vegetables. Cass liked the dressing but was not sold on the burger.

The spaghetti had first-rate plating, but probably third-rate quality. The noodles were overcooked (does anyone do al dente noodles anymore?) and the sauce brought minimal flavor to the party. Roger liked the spaghetti, but was craving pasta, so that very likely played a factor in his thoughts on the dish (or who knows, he just may love it that way). And yes, he loved the beer.

This trip was average at best. Great ambiance, but slightly below-average food; thus, it compromises to an average score. Venti's has a fairly substantial menu, so perhaps we'll try something else on a future visit. 5.5/10

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