Restaurant openings have been rare for downtown Chicago throughout the pandemic, but the extra time was welcome for Chef Don Young. Its new restaurant, Venteux, debuted Wednesday morning inside the Carbide & Carbon Building off the Mag Mile and inside the Pendry Chicago Hotel. As Young saw the modern French restaurant’s opening date, he took advantage of the extra time to polish his menu, including experimenting with dry-aged beef and duck.
Right now, Young is playing with koji, the friendly bacteria that can cut down on the time it takes to give that awesome umami glow that dry-aged meats are known for. Young is known for his creativity and most recently worked at WoodWind in Streeterville. The Chicago native made a name for himself while working at the 20-seat Temporis, West Town’s Michelin-starred restaurant.
But, as customers leave their homes to visit restaurants more frequently, Young doesn’t want to scare diners off, especially at an all-day hotel restaurant where kitchens traditionally focus on creating an accessible menu. to make sure there is something on the menu can satisfy even the most picky hotel guests. So yes there is a burger, but it comes with a raceltte and charred relish. But there are also dishes like “Eggs 5 Ways” (an omelet stuffed with scrambled eggs with Délice de Bourgeon cheese, then garnished with trout eggs, plus a salted grated egg yolk).
“It’s just my voice and what I love to do with food,” Young says. “Overall, there are some classic dishes that we don’t mess around with, like tuna niçoise, but I add my little nuance to this dish.
With this dish, Young says he spices up the dressing with leftover tuna. For the steak frites, which will use dry-aged beef on the spot, the fries will be sprinkled with a special seasoning that uses beef powder, dehydrated mushrooms, and sugar. Young says it’s pretty addicting.
As for space, there is a whole new decor with new rugs, paint, and a classic bistro feel. Young says they also made changes to the interior of the kitchen. They installed Japanese binchotan grids. The 175-seat space was once home to Free Rein, a restaurant that has seen chefs Kristine Subido and Aaron Lirette come in and go. Young hopes to bring some stability and says in recent weeks he’s been encouraged by more pedestrians walking on Michigan Avenue.
“I couldn’t tell if it’s anything different from two years ago,” Young says. “It takes very quickly, very quickly.”
Windy, 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.