Ce’st Magnifique! (It’s Magnificent) Chicago’s French Restaurants are celebrating Bastille Day. Why do we celebrate? Because the Bastille, a prison in France, had come to symbolize the harsh rule of the Bourbon monarchy in 1789. French peasants overtook the guards and released the prisoners. According to Brittanica.com, the taking of the Bastillesignaled the beginning of the French Revolution, and it thus became a symbol of the end of the ancient régime.
Not unlike the United States’ July 4, Bastille Day—July 14—also earns a special celebration. One such restaurant is the new-ish Venteux, (In French: windy) established in 2021. Located in the Pendry Hotel in Michigan Avenue’s historic Carbide & Carbon building, Executive Chef Joseph Mosconi serves classic French fare with a contemporary twist. The bright, airy, green-hued café boasts lush botanical murals, creating a romantic atmosphere. Venteux’s cafe reminds some of France’s Impressionist paintings, and their cuisine strikes a delicate balance between the classic and the unexpected, which you’ll notice both on the menu, and in the presentation of each dish.
From July 14-16, Venteux will celebrate France’s day with special drinks and classic French fare. Urban Matterreports that they will be serving a special Bouillabaisse, the traditional Provençal fish stew, featuring rich broth piled high with lobster, clams, mussels, white fish, tomatoes, and saffron, during weekday brunch and evening dinner service.
At breakfast in the Café, start with a traditional Baguette with seasonal jam, or Overnight Oats, sweet with Black walnut syrup, seeds, and seasonal fruit. Popular also is the Croissant Sandwich, with Hook’s cheddar, bacon, and avocado. Weekend brunches features such delicacies as Duck and Waffle, withhoney, butter, and sumac, their Croissant Egg Sandwich, with Hooks cheddar, bacon, and avocado, or the Croque Monsieur withMornay, ham, and brioche, or Chicken Paillard, withParmesan, arugula, and gastrique. Dinner selections include Duck Liver Mousse, withseasonal jam, mustard seed, and fennel, Eggs 5 Ways, with Délice de Bourgogne, leek, and potato, or Steak Tartare, withsmoked egg yolk and mustard. Escargot (snails) are served with garlic, shallot, and butter.
Desserts, pastries, and sweet stuff are legendary. Try a s’mores tarte, or a freshly baked madeleine, or a souffle, if you have a sweet tooth.
Reviews, while mixed, have been gushy. “The BEST croissant sandwich I’ve ever had!” declared a Google reviewer. “Latte was delicious and reasonably priced. The food was a bit pricey but expected for the location downtown and how nice the place is. Front room is a glass cafe this is bright and beautiful. I went for breakfast but haven’t tried the dinner. I glanced in the main dining room, and it does look beautiful!”
Another wrote, “Oyster bar with a French twist. The food has interesting and unusual flavors. We ordered a number of small plates. My favorite was the “Egg 5 ways” which was kind of an omelette, but with strong flavors and very creamy. The souffle dessert was the best, as one person described it – it’s like eating a cloud. The service was great, our waiter was fun and informative, very knowledgeable about the menu. Would recommend this place and will certainly come back.”
Venteux is located at 224 N. Michigan Avenue (Michigan Avenue & E. South Water Street) They are open for breakfast, brunch, happy hour, and dinner. Hours are Monday- Sunday, 7am–4pm; Tuesday–Thursday, 7am–9pm; and Friday and Saturday, 7am- 10pm. For reservations and more information, click here.
Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago