Restaurant Review: Bistro 7 1/4


Owner and chef, Alexander Svenne
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Looking out at Bistro 7 1/4 from a seat at the chef’s table, the view could easily be that of a busy restaurant in downtown New York City. Located in Winnipeg’s South Osborne, people have been coming from every area of the city for the restaurant's famous mussels and frites and electric atmosphere, since it first opened in 2006.

At 8 p.m. on a Friday night, the dinner rush is just getting started. Every few minutes more people arrive and give their name to the hostess. They are not left waiting for long and are quickly shown to their seats in either the lounge or restaurant. The lounge and restaurant are separated by a wall down the middle of the room where large abstract paintings in soft muted colours hang on both sides, making the whole place feel like an upscale art gallery.

It is a special experience to dine at Bistro 7 1/4. A woman sitting to my left is donning a pearl necklace and sultry red lipstick and nearly every man in the room has on a wrinkle-free dress shirt. At the table directly behind my boyfriend and I, a group of friends cheer and clink their wine glasses together and at an intimate table against the wall, a young couple smile nervously across the table at each other.

It is comforting and refreshing to meet our waiter — a middle-aged man dressed professionally in all black with a friendly smile on his face. He has been working at Bistro 7 1/4 since it first opened and knows exactly what to recommend when we say we are interested in trying a new wine. The $32 bottle of El Petit Bonhomme we order is as smooth as he said it would be. 

We are served a complimentary baguette with whipped butter, citrus salt, and a tasty sun-dried tomato spread. We nibble away and discuss how restaurants hardly ever serve bread anymore while watching owner and chef, Alexander Svenne and three cooks work the tiny, open kitchen in front of us, dancing around each other as the orders stream in. Svenne remains in the thick of the action the entire night, grilling steak, steaming mussels, and frying fish. He concentrates on evenly slicing a medium rare duck breast and finishes the plate with a little garnish. He then takes a half chicken off the grill and slathers a generous helping of mashed potatoes on the plate before placing the chicken on top and pouring white mushroom cream sauce over everything — it’s my chicken fricassee!

Our meals are in front of us without delay — there are no heat lamps in this restaurant. We dig in and enjoy the unique flavours of these new additions to the menu and are more than happy with our choices. The lavish helpings leave us feeling more than satisfied, but without any room for dessert, although we appreciate when our waiter drops off a dessert menu anyway.

When we receive the bill we are not surprised that it comes to $99.98. Expensive? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. We have paid as much for dinner at various big-box chain restaurants in Winnipeg, but never received the same level of excellent food and service as we did at Bistro 7 1/4.


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