This week, Besha Rodell heads to Venice to review Chez Tex, a restaurant that feels like it is “driven by actual people” rather than being “conceived in a marketing meeting.” That’s thanks to literal mom-and-pop owners (the couple had their first child a few weeks after opening) Jesse and Hayley Feldman.
The sparse former-art gallery is reminiscent of “a cafe you might find down some out-of-the-way, winding Parisian street,” with service that “feels like a labor of love.” The “kinda French kinda Californian” menu includes a lovely beet and goat cheese terrine, kale salad that is “ just a very good version of a very ubiquitous dish,” and reliable entrees:
There's a fantastic half chicken, its coating lightly smoky and spicy thanks to a harissa rub. A savory leek bread pudding, like lovely onion-y stuffing, comes on the plate along with braised chard. It tastes like Sunday dinner in the French countryside, like comfort but also elegance. Black-as-tar nero risotto features local squid and large prawns, and is murkily delicious, brightened by a smear of pesto made with lovage along the side of the bowl. [ELA]
It isn’t all rosy in the review though, as the Weekly critic bemoans the fact that the restaurant with wine bar vibes has a wine list that is “a bit too obvious and limited for a serious wine bar, and a bit too expensive for a casual neighborhood cafe.” There also aren’t enough snacks to go along with the wine, with B. Rod noting, “in a world flooded with small plates, they're in oddly short supply at this one place where they make sense.”
She concludes, “Chez Tex isn't important or impressive or rule-bending. It's just a nice place to have dinner. Which, these days, feels almost revelatory.” Chez Tex earns two stars.