Ventana is a Midget Orgy of Flavor

Ventana ribs.jpg
These ribs are surprisingly spicy, just like your mom!
Ventana is tasty, but it might be too avant-garde, like a robot programmed to crucify itself on the hood of a VW Beetle. Still, I enjoyed everything I ate. Allow me to tell you all about it.

We started with a cucumber gazpacho ($8). This was interesting. Chunks of Kumamoto oyster lurked just beneath the surface of a satiny puree of cucumber. Speckles of olive oil were drizzled on top, and a mound of some kind of weird spicy ice-- yes, you read that correctly--was heaped directly in the center of the bowl. The soup itself was chill and refreshing. The oysters were sweet and briny and silken, and the piquant Slurpee in the middle of the thing, crunchy and with a sullen but completely surprising afterburn, provided an interesting textural and flavor contrast.

Fried rosemary bread was $7, and for this price we got a weird doughy semicircle, flaky and crispy but also greasy and completely irresistible. Yes, it was heavy as fuck, but so is Black Sabbath and you don't hear me complaining about that. The rosemary flavor was subtle, but that didn't matter because this motherfucker could slay any hangover known to man. I've always thought that a Gatorade enema was the best cure for a night of binge drinking but no--it's this bread. The ramekin of truffled parmasean butter that came with it seemed too trendy and was so rich that when you spread it on the fried bread it was just total overkill, like a bitchin' van with a rear spoiler and captain's chairs and curtains AND red velvet upholstery AND an 8- track AND a wizard airbrushed on the side. This bombastic fucking bread came with a brief side salad of mizuna, shaved semicircles of fennel bulb, and halved cherry tomatoes. The salad was nice, dressed with a little oil, though mizuna is clearly just arugula for people with a fear of commitment.

Next up was a salmon sashimi ($12). Three small slabs of salmon, each about the size of a piece of nigiri sushi, were piled up on top of a slippery skidmark of cauliflower puree, with a cute pile of diced celery and diced ramp bulbs and a scattering of black tobiko. The sashimi was buttery and supple, seasoned with a couple coarse grains of fleur de sel. When you got a bite of everything together, it was sweet and salty and crunchy and briny, with a jaunty popping action in the finish as the tobiko burst in your mouth. Imagine a bunch of midgets on ecstasy, running around and dancing and happily having midget sex with one another. That's what this was like, except on your tongue. I certainly hope the midgets wiped their shoes first.

Short ribs were also $12 and these blew the fuck out of my mind. We got 6 ribs or so, crispy outside but melty inside. They were piled up in an artful heap, doused in a pomegranate sauce and punctuated with coca nibs. A chiffonade of mint lightened things up a bit, and the cubed watermelon strewn about the plate was, like the ice in the gazpacho, strangely spicy. This dish was pretty tight, unlike your mom.

We finished things off with seven bucks' worth of red velvet cake, which came to the table in a huge rectangular chunk, like what you'd get at a church bake sale. The cake itself was moist and the butter cream frosting was smooth and not too sweet. It came with a couple raspberries for garnish and a small quenelle of Chantilly cream, which as everyone knows became popular in the 1950's when that fat dude who died in the plane crash with Richie Valens and Led Zeppelin wrote a song about it.

Ventana is a real head- scratcher (just like your mom), but I like it. It reminds me of Avila, which sadly closed on Monday July 26th. These motherfuckers at Ventana are technically proficient. They can assemble flavors and play with flavor and textural contrasts, and the prices are really quite reasonable, yet the place had plenty of empty seats at 8:00 on a Friday night in Belltown. Why? Can anyone answer me? Not even Nostradamus knows, and he was even able to predict 9/11!

Rating: 8 dire warnings out of 10

Ventana is located at 2323 1st Ave

For reservations call 206-441-4789

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow