Chez Tex Debuts a Modern, Parisian-Inspired Bistro in Venice
Chez Tex is not exactly French, nor does it serve chile con queso. The name of this bright and airy 36-seater on Main Street is a reference to the high/low aesthetic and upscale/casual cuisine that has become quintessentially Venice.
Inspired by Parisian bistros and Southern California living, the young "mom and pop" owners Hayley and Jesse "Tex" Feldman (due to become "mom and dad" in the coming months) wanted to create a place where everyone is welcome to the table, and dishes like humble pee wee potatoes are elevated by a generous dollop of Beurre de Baratte, a French butter with the reputation of a rare and exquisite cheese.
For those who've yet to experience a Beurre de Baratte awakening, the deep-yellow butter is soft and salty-sweet, and churned the old-fashioned way in Normandy. It's featured in dishes at some of L.A.'s best restaurants including Petit Trois, Providence, and at Republique where Chez Tex Chef Ashkan Ghassemzadeh recently served as sous chef under Walter Manzke.
Ghassemzadeh, who goes simply by "Chef Ash," prefers the straightforward approach, allowing his ingredients to impress on their own without much fuss. In the summer ceviche, sashimi-sized slices of local yellowtail are cured in a light finger-lime leche de tigre with avocado and Aji chilis. He shows the same reserve with the loup de mer, the most substantial dish on the 10-item menu, where skin-on filets are fall-apart tender without the heavy-hand of sauce or butter, and served with a side of heirloom tomato panzanella and fresh-torn basil.
The one dessert, peaches and cream, gives the nostalgic treat a modern twist with baby green Japanese peaches and fresh shiso.
Just as focused is the well-curated wine and beer menu with all of the mostly-French wines available by the glass or bottle.
Harmonizing elements of casual comfort and modern elegance play into the decor as well. Located in the former antiques shop Obsolete, which was divided into three new spaces (two for relocated Abbot Kinney boutiques Mona Moore and Pamela Barish), Chez Tex features a sleek concrete bar set against the rustic, exposed brick wall of the century-old building. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open out to a view of the Renaissance building's columns and arches and a street sign that marks the entry point from Santa Monica into Venice. The tables are appointed with bud vases and plates from L.A.-based Humble Ceramics, and mid-century details like fiddle leaf trees in Gainey pots and Normann Copenhagen chairs (sourced at Abbot Kinney's A+R Design) do their part to save space and modernize the look.
In the coming weeks, Chez Tex will begin to serve an all-day menu and Counter Culture coffee, and it's already available to reserve for private parties—something to keep in mind for those holiday parties fast approaching.
Chez Tex // 218 Main Street, Venice 90291; Tuesday through Thursday 5:30 to 10 p.m. and Friday, Saturday from 5:30 to 11 p.m.