You don’t hear about many restaurants tackling venison, but leave it to Chaya to take a leap of faith, and come out a winner. This cool place has an eclectic vibe, with the food reflecting its cutting edge persona.
Chaya Venice, primarily known for its Japanese-French culinary traditions, often embarks on seasonal culinary experiments, and I’ve always been impressed by whatever they undertake. Chef Shigefumi Tachibe’s got a real winner with his game-driven “Venison Food Fair” taking place until December 11.
We sampled the four specials highlighted from the venison menu, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. Venison can often be quite gamey, but these samples were far from that. Their regular menu is also available for those who prefer to stay on the beaten path.
Venison Chile Con Carne with Country Bread ($21) - This was a hearty start, promising to take the chill out of any winter night. Thick chunks of lean venison steak were surrounded with kidney, garbanzo and white beans, topped with pepper jack cheese and grilled country bread. There’s a nice zing to this, probably due to the cumin. We loved it.
Venison Burger with Apple Golden Raisin Chutney and Sweet Potato Frit ($22) - This dish clearly put most sliders to shame, topped with crispy bacon, pepper jack cheese, arugula, red cabbage, and Fuji apple. I’m not much of a burger fan, but these slid down quickly, amplified with the side of potatoes.
Venison Meat Balls with late Momotaro Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti ($23) - Pasta lovers will rejoice in this creation, topped with a marinara sauce. This evening, the pasta was a Pappardelle, nicely layered like a soft blanket below the meatballs.
Roasted Venison with Blueberry Black Peppercorn Sauce ($42) - This was our favorite, braced with sautéed organic mushroom and haricot verts and chestnut puree. Spread a bit on top of the venison for a wild treat.
In between the venison samples, we went for a few of our usual favorites from the regular menu.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls ($12) - These are always a refreshing way to start, stuffed with shrimp, Alaskan snow crab, and laced with a spicy peanut sauce.
Organic Slow Roasted Beets ($11) - This was a modified version of what was on their menu, with just the greens and the beets. It was a great refreshing palate cleanser.
After so much meat, I was ready to arm-wrestle Popeye for dessert, but alas, he was not to be found, so my dining companion and I devoured the bread pudding by ourselves, and thanked our lucky stars for the divine feast.
I hope they extend this special menu beyond Dec. 11. It shouldn’t be missed!
110 Navy St.
Venice, CA 90291