Restaurant Review: Venture Kitchen & Bar

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I’ve heard good things about very few restaurants on the peninsula. And I hate that. I hate having to cross the dreaded Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel if we want to have a really good meal. But, that’s life. We could move to the other side of the bridge, but then we’d both have to cross the bridge daily to come to work. Right now, we only cross it when we want to. Like when we go out to eat or want to go to the beach. Anyways. One of the restaurants I constantly hear good things about is Venture Kitchen and Bar in Hampton. I’m off on Fridays, and G took a half day on Friday since his parents were coming to town. Since we had a few hours to kill before their arrival, we decided to go have lunch, and I picked Venture. And I am so, so glad I did.

Their menu is not large, but it is diverse and full of interesting options. For lunch, our options were one of their brick oven fired pizzas, several sandwiches, and salads (for the dinner menu they take off the sandwiches and offer a decent variety of small plates). They also offer an impressive bar menu, including a pretty awesome cocktail list.

We were starving, and the only small plate/appetizer they offer during lunch is their house-made tots, so we went with those. And oh my gosh, I’m glad we did. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that these tots were one of the best things I have ever eaten. Ever. The tots were made from cooked potatoes, shaped into cubes and fried. The texture of these bad boys was amazing. The insides were soft and fluffy, and the outside was perfectly crispy. They were served with spicy mayo (which I didn’t touch, since I loathe mayo), but these were amazing.

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I wasn’t really feeling pizza for lunch, so I went with their daily salad special. It was a shrimp couscous salad (lemon garlic sautéed gulf shrimp on a bed of arugula and couscous with tomato and feta). Y’all. This was good. Really, really good. The shrimp were amazing. They were large, perfectly cooked and had so much flavor. The couscous was delicious, I just wish it had larger chunks of tomato, instead of the microscopic pieces that were there. I do wish the arugula had been tossed in some type of vinaigrette. It definitely needed something… I’m going to recreate this at home in the near future, and that will be the main change that I make.

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G ordered the meatball bahn-mi (braised pork meatballs, pickled carrot, cilantro, jalapeño, bean sprouts, & fresh mayo on a crusty roll), and it was delicious. It was served with more tots (yay!) and had tons of flavor. I loved that they sliced the meatballs in half. The meatballs having a flat side made the sandwich much easier to eat. All of the flavors worked so well together and it was really, really good.

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Our meal here was excellent. Every component of it was. The food was delicious. The service was great. She was available, but not overbearing and pleasant. The prices were very reasonable. The salad I had was $11 and G’s sandwich was $8. I cannot wait to go back in the near future for dinner (and cocktails) or Sunday brunch (and cocktails).

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