Review: Venus Szechuan & Mandarin in Park Ridge
My girlfriend and I ate at Venus yesterday during a lunch outing to Park Ridge. Went there on a whim after strolling through the town.
The interior is fairly nice, with that more modern Chinese-restaurant interior that you find at many places. Black carpets, dark booths, white tablecloths, and white walls with gold trim around the edges and columns. The place seemed clean, and had a small but well-stocked bar upon entrance. However, there were only two barstools, so it seems more like a service bar for the restaurant. I didn't count the tables, but I would guess that there were about eight booths and maybe ten tables.
While we only tried a small amount of the food, it seemed average overall. Our server gave us a lunch menu, which was more limited than the dinner menu, and all the standard items are there. Egg Fu Yong, Fried Rice Dishes, a variety of stir fry options, soups. etc. We ordered a crab rangoon, hot and sour soup, sesame crispy beef, and a sweet & sour chicken. The rangoon filling was very good, tangy and homemade, but the wontons were a bit heavy with oil. The soup also had a very oily texture to it, and came with an odd skin of white pepper over about 1/4 of the surface, as if they had thrown the pepper on top, but not stirred it in. Overall, the soup was passable, but nothing exciting. The crispy beef had a good flavor, but much more liquid to it than I usually find in that dish (and less rice noodles, oddly enough), and the texture was a bit off as a result. The sweet & sour chicken had good flavor, but again, the sauce and chicken were a bit oily. The waiter also brought some complimentary slices of melon (honeydew, I think), which was a nice touch, but unfortunately, the melon had very little flavor. The total for lunch, with tip, was about $28.
Our experience with the staff was generally good, although a bit odd in some respects. We ate around 1:30, so there were maybe two other lunch tables in the restaurant. We saw three staff members during our time: one gentleman busing tables, another who was our waiter, and a woman who may have been the manager. We weren't sure, because during the entire 40 minutes were were there, she was engaged in a long telephone conversation at a table in the back. I'm not sure if it was business, personal, or what, but it was very loud and distracting, considering there were only about five diners in the restaurant.
Our waiter is the one who sat us, and after filling our water glasses, he disappeared for quite some time. Upon coming back, he never asked if we wanted a drink of any sort; in fact, he never asked us at all, which was also a bit odd. He was generally polite, and fairly attentive after we had put our order in, although he and the woman on the phone spent most of their time in the back of the restaurant trimming a massive pile of peapods that were laid out on their table. They both yelled "Thank you" to us as we were walking out the front door.
In general, I found Venus to be a very average restaurant. For take-out, it would probably be a reliable option, but there is nothing terribly remarkable about the food, service, or experience. I would return, but probably not before I had tried out other options in the area.
Venus Szechuan & Mandarin Restaurant
18 S Northwest Hwy Ste 100, Park Ridge, IL 60068