Eating Out: Mediterranean dining at new Fresno restaurant
A new, upscale restaurant promising an authentic Mediterranean dining experience has opened in northwest Fresno.
The Venue is open now in the shopping center at Palm and Nees avenues, but will celebrate its grand opening Saturday. The restaurant took over the former Twist Restaurant and Lounge.
As you may recall, Twist had some troubles with liquor license violations and locked horns with the city when it tried to renew its dance permit.
That’s ancient history, says The Venue owner Vahan Panossian. The new restaurant will focus on fine dining.
“We’re shooting for 5-star,” Panossian says.
He also owns The House of Kabob at Fresno Street and Alluvial Avenue and the Fresno Deli at Gettysburg Avenue and Fresno Street.
The restaurant has hired chef Adam Yaghmour, a graduate of the University of Jordan and a former executive chef at Hotel Marriott in San Francisco.
The restaurant will feature authentic Mediterranean food, not Americanized versions, Panossian says.
For example, the menu features the Sultan Ibrahim fish, a red mullet imported from the Mediterranean and served the Lebanese way, fried and with pita bread. The menu is huge, offering more than 30 appetizers.
Customers can choose from two ways of dining.
First, the traditional way we’re used to, with lunch dishes averaging around $15, or dinner averaging $25.
Or, they can eat the Mediterranean way: Come early, share some appetizers, linger at the table talking with friends, maybe step away for some hookah on the patio and finish with dinner around 10 p.m. or later.
For an additional per-person price, diners can order up to 20 appetizers for the table.
“That’s why we call it The Venue,” Panossian says. “It’s the hangout spot.”
The restaurant, bar and hookah lounge close at midnight, but no one will be kicked out, he says.
“If you’re here, you can stay til 2,” he says. “I’m keeping the bar hoppers out. I’m keeping the trouble makers out.”
Other restaurant news
– Some sad news in the restaurant world: QN4U BBQ House founder Brent Walton died last weekend.
The “King of Q” as friend and radio show host Charley “Gnarley Charley” Fitzgerald calls Walton, had a heart attack late Friday night at age 57.
In addition to QN4U, Walton took over Rep’s Cocktail Lounge on Blackstone Avenue in Fresno late last year and had just started serving food there, renaming it QN4U BBQ & SPIRITS. He also was a caterer.
Walton was well known in town, but even more so in the barbecue world. Walton and his wife, Kim, won 23 California barbecuing competitions over the years and appeared on TLC’s second season of “BBQ Pitmasters.”
His wife is determined not to let Brent’s death affect QN4U. The restaurant will continue business as normal, minus one important person.
A celebration of Walton’s life will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Clovis Rodeo Grounds. And of course, barbecue will be served.
– Texas Roadhouse will open Monday at 3190 West Shaw Ave. in Fresno. The chain restaurant, with its steak-laden menu and line-dancing employees, rebuilt the former Sweet Tomatoes restaurant.
There are several fun food-related events coming up over the next week.
– Big Hat Days is this weekend in Clovis. The folks over at the Clovis Chamber of Commerce are promising some scrumptious goodies, including artichokes stuffed with shrimp, crab and fried calamari. Dessert includes deep-fried Twinkies and Snickers bars, and cookies and cream cheese frosting “shots.”
– The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titantic is coming up, and two restaurants will mark it with special dinners.
The Vintage Press Restaurante in Visalia will serve a dinner Sunday inspired by the ship’s first-class menu. It includes oysters on the half shell, filet mignon, salmon, watercress salad and chocolate eclairs for dessert.
Dinner is $95 per person. Reservations required. Call (559) 733-3033.
On the following Sunday, April 22, Erna’s Elderberry House in Oakhurst will reenact the last dinner served on the ship, an 11-course meal honoring the captain. It includes poached salmon and roasted squab, and for dessert: coffee, petits fours and optional cigars.
Diners are encouraged to dress in “1920 elegance.”
It costs $125. Reservations can be made by calling (559) 683-6800 or online at www.chateausureau.com.
By Bethany Clough