Good boy deserves flavor

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Bistro 7 has a New York look and feel—elegant warm woods, high ceilings, cushy booths and tables, yet providing an inviting comfortable, casual dining experience. It seats 100 with an outside patio that holds 50 in the warmer months. Owner Dave Bogart’s staff is well schooled and friendly. There’s a nice, big full bar and a great wine list, offering more than 150 bottles ($29-$350). Lunch ($8-$30) and dinner ($8-$34) menus have many standards and creative selections.

Chef Woodall was born in South Korea and trained in Classical French with previous experience at La Creperie Cafe in Long Beach, Calif., Wild River Grill, and The Grill at Quail Corners here in town.

To start, I tried the tomato brie soup ($5 cup), and chicken pot stickers with lemongrass and ginger ponzu ($10). The soup had a noticeable fresh vegetable backbone flavor with a creamy finish and a slice of brie floating. The potstickers, creations of Chef Mike Woodall, were all about ground meat engulfed in a cascade of rich citrus layers of flavor that made my mouth alive with tantalizing bursts in every bite. A light soy dipping sauce added saltiness to expose the layers of zesty flavors to the taste buds.

The nine thin-crusted pizzas, or light meals, are also ways to start. The happy hour menu ($5-$12) is all about small plates with bites like toasted rosemary cashews ($5) or Bison Sliders with NY white cheddar ($7), with a good glass of wine or any one of the 20-plus draft, foreign or domestic beers they offer. The miso crusted Chilean sea bass ($33) with sweet soy glaze was a must. Coated with miso, a traditional Japanese seasoning, pan seared and glazed with Chef’s homemade sweet soy, this dish was nothing short of nirvana. I could really taste the interplay between the flavor of the fish, a flakey, light, savory palate pleaser, and the flavor of the marinade, a salty-sweet infusion, making every bite memorable and alluring.

Forbidden rice as the starch with some squash balanced the plate. Legend tells us that this deep purple rice is ancient grain, fabled to enrich health and ensure longevity, once eaten exclusively by the emperors of China.

I couldn’t resist the by-the-glass wine list and jumped in head-first. With my appetizers, I quaffed the 2012 Truchard, “The Shepherd” Napa ($11). Aromas of passion fruit, honeysuckle and lime were highlighted with notes of lychee and jasmine. The mouthfeel has subtle richness, filled with intense flavors of grapefruit, white peach and melon; bright acidity provides a zesty finish of spicy citrus.

So with fish, one drinks white? Not this pilgrim, and I saw two reds screaming, “Take me!”

The 2009 Revo Lution Malbec from Argentina ($9)—this wine marched through my mouth with remarkable flavors and delicate minerality. Aged in seasoned barrels, there’s a black peppery kick that left my palate humming for a few seconds after the first sip. Drink deep the black cherry flavors and long live the revolution!

Another sleeper caused me to succumb—the 2009 Owen Roe “Abbot’s Table” from the Columbia River Valley in Washington State. With mouthwatering aromas of plum, raspberry, white pepper and herbaceous undertones, the mouth-feel has lovely depth and richness with bright acidity, rounded out with hints of vanilla, dark cocoa nibs, robust violet and spice—crazy good with this fish.

The chef would not allow me to escape without a signature dessert, Hava Java Mudpie with chocolate cookie crust, coffee ice cream, hot fudge sauce, locally made chocolate-coffee Java Chip ($8). Whatever you imagine about this, you are correct!