TLT Recommends: Venus

Shortly after it opened in 2006 I visited Venus with a friend of mine. This was a media dinner so we were given the royal treatment. While that doesn’t always happen, it’s often the norm when they know someone’s there who might write about them so I wasn’t too surprised at the level of service. I did, however, pay attention to the rest of the tables that night and it seemed everyone was getting the same attention. The cuisine was also delicious, and while you can kick your game up a notch it’s not really possible to take something mediocre and make it great. With those two caveats in mind I gave them a glowing review.

Since then I’ve not hesitated to recommend Venus. Despite only having been back a couple of times, those were after an evening at the Greek Media Club. If they pick that spot out of all the others in Greektown to visit, it’s probably a good sign. Finally this week I was able to return myself and my recommendation unequivocally stands.

We arrived early because we had tickets to Hubbard Street Dance’s season premiere and were seated at the “best table in the house”, a two-top overlooking Jackson Street. The windows were open to take complete advantage of the last vestiges of summer before the cool of fall. Immediately we were served a bread basket and a tray of olives, which we learned later are only served at Venus. Our server George helped us with our wine selection and then with the massive menu. He knew everything on there, and I do mean everything. It was almost overwhelming but he seemed to know when to pull back and give us a few moments to soak it all in.

We ended up ordering the saganaki halloumi, a Cypriot version of the famous flaming cheese, except this one isn’t set on fire. Venus is big on tradition, and the Opaa! and the flames are not from Greece or from Cyprus, which is what their menu revolves around. We also tried the koupepia. These are similar to stuffed grape leaves or dolmades, one of my personal favorites. Instead of lamb, however, they use pork and they serve them with housemade yogurt. Both of the appetizers were fantastic.

Next we shared the elliniki. This is pretty much what you expect when you order a Greek salad anywhere, any time. Lettuce, tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumbers, onions, feta cheese, and Greek dressing. Yum.

For dinner we were fairly stymied. Everything sounded good. We finally settled on the Kleftiko and the Kotopoulo Sti Schara. The Kleftiko is their specialty: lamb wrapped in foil and slow baked for six hours with potatoes and onions and tomatoes. George told us the Kotopoulo, or baked chicken, was the best he’d ever had. Heavy on the lemon, tender and juicy, I’d have to agree. I had been anticipating the Keftiko because that’s what I’d had on my first visit, but I actually preferred the chicken.

By the time we finished our entrees it was time to leave. During the entire meal George was attentive when he needed to be and gave us our space when we wanted to enjoy our dinner and conversation. When we asked for the check it seemed he felt that he had fallen down on his duty because he didn’t know we had a deadline and we didn’t get to see the dessert menu, but that was entirely by design on our parts.

When we left the valet, whose service is complimentary, opened my door first just as he had when we arrived. We left for the Harris Theater feeling truly satisfied in the way only an exemplary dining experience can give you.

Thank you, Venus, for standing up to the test of time and proving that your quality is not based on who dines but on who serves.






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