Hours: Dinner: seven days
Open Late: Saturday till 3, Friday till 2, other nights till 11.
Traditional Cyprus-style meze (small plates) are the specialty at this Greektown spot.
Located in Greektown, this is Chicago's first Cypriot restaurant. The cuisine of Cyprus reflects its history: mostly Greek, but influenced by Turkish, Persian, Venetian, Roman, and British invaders. A few dishes on Venus's 15-course tasting menu resemble typical Greektown fare: the talatouri dip, made with thick, creamy homemade yogurt, cucumbers, and mint, is a lot like tzatziki, and the tender grilled marinated octopus, htapodi sti schara, is identical to the version on Greek menus. But the pourgouri (cracked wheat with onions and tomatoes) reminds me of North African couscous dishes, and the syrupy baklava -- filled with almonds and walnuts instead of the usual pistachios -- is as Middle Eastern as the stuffed grape leaves and the hummus. A few items are uniquely Cypriot: there's afelia, tender cubed pork marinated in wine and seasoned with coriander, and halloumi, a firm, salty goat cheese that's baked and served in wedges inside a pita. The decor is Mediterranean kitsch: palm plants, green-shuttered window frames opening onto painted ocean views, and a bar made to look like an ancient Greek warship. The multicourse meals are served family style, three to four small dishes at a time ($30 per person for a meal with red meat, $35 for fish, or $38 for both), or you can order a la carte. The wine list highlights reds and whites from the Greek islands.
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