The Venue dances up some chow
The Venue, a restaurant/nightclub in a strip along Lake Michigan Drive in Standale, is best described as a beautiful mess. The restaurant does not know what it wants to be.
Is it an Indian restaurant? Pizza place? Italian eatery? Mexican restaurant? Pub grub operation? The answer is yes to all those questions.
Almost every restaurant that tries to be too much of everything fails at everything as well. But despite its schizophrenic menu (and music — on a recent visit, I heard everything from Beck and the Black Keys to the Beatles and Elvis Presley), it seems to come together at The Venue. Frankly, I do not know how it works, but The Venue does a lot right.
And for those on a tight budget, The Venue is hard to beat. The restaurant has astounding daily specials. For example, on Friday you can get one appetizer, two entrees, one dessert and two glasses of wine for $25. On Saturday, the special is $9.99 for all you can eat chicken wings (with the purchase of a pitcher).
The menu is enough to make your head spin. My wife Stephanie and I went to The Venue recently and happened to hit happy hour. Our beers were deeply discounted and appetizers were half off. Both of us are fans of Indian food so we chose the Aloo Chatt ($3.99 is full price, but we paid half), chick peas, potatoes and flour dumplings in a tangy yogurt sauce. It was large enough for both of us to share and the yogurt sauce was the star — perfectly spiced and delicious.
Stephanie continued on with her Indian meal and ordered the Chicken Vandaloo ($11) — chicken marinated in aged vinegar, cooked with curry sauce, potatoes and spices. It came with a mountain of rice and huge pile of pita bread. The chicken was a bit dry and the vandaloo sauce a touch on the bland side for her liking. The portion was very large and she had enough to take home for lunch the next day.
I went for the pub grub and picked the Chicken Wings (10 for $5.99, the other option is 20 for $11.99) with melt down spicy sauce. Other sauce options include BBQ, spicy BBQ, garlic and lemon, sweet and sour, honey mustard and honey BBQ. The meaty wings were cooked perfectly and the sauce was hot without being overpowering. I would order them again.
You could visit The Venue multiple times and never have the same thing (or dine in the same style of cuisine for that matter). The waitress said the wet burrito ($7.49) is a favorite as is the pizza (range from $7.50 to $17.99), Butter Chicken ($11) and make-your-own pastas. The restaurant also has burgers, subs, steaks and wraps.
The Venue is by no means perfect. The venue itself is a drab, dark, but clean bar. It lacks ambiance. While our meals were good, they were by no means great. The service was excellent and the owner came over to ask us how we were doing as well. I look forward to exploring the rest of The Venue’s overwhelming menu.The Venue ( Rating: out of 5 )
Where: 4072 Lake Michigan Drive, Standale (view map)
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday 12 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Ambiance: Dark, moody bar
How much it will cost you: Appetizers from $2.99; entrees $7 to $16
Credit cards: All major
Contact: (616) 719-2686