Venus Restaurant in Easthampton, MA
I went about two weeks ago with a few girlfriends on a Friday evening. We went downstairs and ordered some drinks and a couple appetizers. The cheese plate was lovely.. St. Andre cheese, some bread, and a great minced apple topping. We also got the mediterranean app. Everything was tasty (hummus, olives, roasted red peppers) except for the eggplant. It had an overwhelming smoky flavor. That was the most disappointing part of the meal, though, so not bad!
Once upstairs, we ordered the house paté and an order of escargots. The paté was delicious, but the star of the evening were those escargots! They were served out of their shell in a bourguigon sauce with mushrooms that was to DIE for! We were using our spoons to get at the rest of the sauce! We were also brought an amuse bouche of curried chicken salad (yum!) and a mango chai palate cleanser. So tasty.
For our mains we ordered: hazelnut crusted trout, monkfish, and a special of the evening -- lamb shank. All of these were amazing, especially the monkfish. It melted in your mouth. The lamb would be perfect on a cold evening, though.
We were too full for dessert, but needless to say we will be returning again soon.
Here's a link to the website: http://venusandthecellarbar.com/
Ate there last night and found it to be extremely good.
Interestingly, I had the lamb and the scallop ceviche like previous poster gfs1937. I found the ceviche excellent, tender and delicate, it melted in my mouth leaving a pleasing trail of red-pepper-infused heat behind. I believe the limpness in the scallops (mentioned by gfs1937 ) relates to the fact that they are cooked by citrus juices (the basis of ceviche), not by heat.
Also tried the shrimp and gnocchi apps. The gnocchi was out of this world with flavor. The shrimp struck me as more standard fare, but had a nice smokey aftertaste.
My lamb entree was cooked medium, to the chef's preference, and was delicious and tender. The side of quinoa was surprisingly good and the chickpea salad fresh and tasty.
I had the opportunity to try a bite of the halibut and skirt steak from generous friends. The steak was so different from the lamb, but no less good. Cooked medium rare, it was tender and flavorful. The halibut was flaky and mild, over a gorgeous pea puree.
This is a place definitely worth re-visiting. But it is small, so plan ahead. Because the dining room was packed, we ate in the Cellar bar, which can get a bit noisy (resulting in the waitress mishearing two of our orders--a bit of a problem). They've been busy enough to run out of Grey Goose vodka, which was a bit disappointing. But the ambience is great; they did a great job with decor. Sophisticated, but comfortable.
I ate there on Tuesday, June 23d, their "hard" opening night. I believe that it's clearly the best restaurant in Easthampton although that's faint praise since Imagine closed years ago.
I had the scallops cerviche and the lamb. The scallops were fine, though a little limp. I asked that the lamb be cooked to the chef's taste and it came out medium +. The ingredients seemed to be of good quality.
The room was well appointed and. although the seating is understandably tight for a small (30 seat) place, the acoustics were excellent.
The service was excellent, particularly on an opening night. I didn't test the server's knowledge with any complicated questions, however.
The wine list was matched to the food quite well and most choices were available by the glass. The wines were inexpensive, but definitely exceeded my guideline of double retail cost (local - T&V). I would have enjoyed a fairly good, faitly priced Champagne.
The downstairs bar was a bar, not a lounge and was staffed that night by the delightful Sally.
In all, I'll go again. Jerry
I saw that there was some activity inside on 6/19, so I ducked in for a quick look. As it turned out, that was their "soft" opening night. It looked very nice, and the menu was high end. The Cellar Bar downstairs also looked very nice.
I spoke to a friend who was there on that opening night. Very positive. My wife and I are going this evening. I'll report back with my reaction.
Sorry to be so late in reporting back. We enjoyed our meal at Venus very much. Very nice atmosphere, great service, but of course, none of that means much if the food doesn't measure up. But the food was terrific. The grilled salad was so interesting...never had anything like it before. Great!! The heirloom quinoa side dish was also excellent. I have had mixed results with regular quinoa before, but this heirloom dish proved to me that quinoa can be delicious when prepared by a master. My lamb and my wife's fish were both excellent. No complaints at all...we will go back, but it is a premium price restaurant, so it will be reserved for special nights out. Highly recommended.