Restaurant openings have been few and far between for Downtown Chicago throughout the pandemic, but the extra time was welcome for chef Don Young. His new restaurant, Venteux, debuted Wednesday morning inside the Carbide & Carbon Building off the Mag Mile and inside the Pendry Chicago hotel. As Young has seen the opening date for the modern French restaurant slide, he used the additional time to tweak his menu including experimenting with dry aging beef and duck.
Right now Young is playing with koji, the friendly bacteria that can reduce the time it takes to impart that funky umami burst that dry-aged meats are known for. Young is known for his creativity and most recently worked at WoodWind in Streeterville. The Chicago native earned a name for himself while at 20-seat Temporis, the Michelin-starred restaurant in West Town.
But, as diners remerge from their homes to visit restaurants with more frequency, Young doesn’t want to scare diners away, especially at an all-day hotel restaurant where kitchens traditionally focus on creating an accessible menu to ensure there’s something on the menu that can keep even the pickiest hotel guest happy. So yes, there’s a burger, but it comes with raceltte and charred-leak relish. But there’s also dishes like “Eggs 5 Ways” (an omelette stuffed with scrambled eggs with Delice de Bourgeon cheese, then topped with trout roe, plus a grated salt-cured egg yolk).
“It’s just my voice and what I love doing with food,” says Young. “Overall, there are some classic dishes that we’re not messing with, like tuna Niçoise, but I’m adding my little nuance to that dish.”
With that dish, Young says he’s amping up the vinaigrette with tuna scraps. For the steak frites, which will use beef dry-aged on site, the fries will get dusted in a special seasoning that uses beef powder, dehydrated mushrooms, and sugar. Young says it’s pretty addicting.
As far as the space, there’s a brand new decor with new rugs, paint, and a classic bistro feel. Young says they’ve also made alteration inside the kitchen. They installed Japanese binchotan grills. The 175-seat space formerly housed Free Rein, a restaurant that saw chefs Kristine Subido and Aaron Lirette come in and depart. Young hopes to bring some stability and says over the last few weeks he’s been encouraged with more pedestrians walking down Michigan Avenue.
“I couldn’t tell if it’s anything different from two years ago,” Young says. “It’s picking up really quick, really fast.”
Venteux, 224 N. Michigan Avenue, inside the Pendry Chicago hotel, open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily.