Recently, we were invited to the grand opening of the Bistro 7 in Wilton, Connecticut. We like to experience new restaurants so we decided to take them up on their offer and give our honest opinion. It took us about an hour and a half to get there since we live on the other side of Connecticut, but the drive through Westport to Wilton was great.
As our GPS told us that our destination was 200 yards ahead on the left, we started looking around for a quaint little building where we envisioned it would be located. We were a little surprised when we realized it was located in a simple brick building over the top of a hardware store. Don’t let the outside fool you though because once you walk through the door you will be pleasantly surprised.
But as we walked through the front door, we soon realized that it was, in fact, an upscale, but casual bistro. The interior was warm and inviting, just as a bistro should be. The interior was a combination of brick and wood. The interior bricks came from a building built in 1927 in the Lower East Side of New York City and have been laid so as to have an aged look. The walls and floors were beautiful semi-smooth wood, in a rich medium finish. The creamy white seats of the chairs blended well with rich black and brown tones of other portions of the interior. They had a kitchen that was open to the dining room.
On the back wall, they had old Cary Grant movie projected on the white wall and that just added a charming ambiance to the restaurant.
We were quickly seated and had just started looking at the menu, when Breno (one of the owners) came up and introduced himself to us. As we chatted with him, his passion for the restaurant and what they serve quickly became apparent. He introduced us to his business partner, Matt; you also exhibited the same passion. We asked Breno what he suggested we try and went with his suggestions.
The Bistro has a farm to table approach, using the freshest and highest quality, and many time local, ingredients in their dishes. They state that their cuisine is New American with some Spanish, German, and Mediterranean influence. The chef is German. Not being exactly sure as to the definition of New American cuisine, we talked with the chef and I asked for his definition and he said: it is upscale, contemporary cooking that combines flavors from America’s melting pot with traditional techniques but with a twist. It focuses on significant creative use of organic and in-season American ingredients and sauces that accompany the dish. To state it another way, it showcases high-end ingredients, simple preparations, and elements of fusion.
Taste is always the main focus of food, but presentation and aroma play a significant role in eating. If the presentation is not pleasing to the eye and the aroma of the food is not inviting, taste may not get an unbiased evaluation. Before we start talking about each course, the presentation was very pleasing (as you can see from the pictures) and the aroma was inviting.
We each had a cocktail as our courses were being prepared. Wendy had a Brazilian Mojito that she said was very refreshing with just the right amount of mint. A while back she tried a mojito at a different restaurant that had put so much mint in the mojito that it overpowered everything else.
While we waited to tried their homemade bread with a seasoned olive oil for dipping.
We started off with a Chef’s Cheese plate that featured three artisan cheeses from New England cheese makers. The three cheeses were:
- Weston Wheel from Vermont: a delicious aged, raw sheep’s milk cheese, firm and nutty with slight toffee flavor
- Tarentaise from Vermont: a farmstead cheese from whole Jersey cows’ milk, certified organic cheese that is medium firm with a nutty, sweet flavor
- Beltane Vespers from Connecticut: a goats’ milk cheese with a vegetable ash layer that is creamy cheese (much like a brie), with herbal and earthy flavors
The plate also had fresh strawberries and blueberries, dried cranberries, lightly candied walnuts, three different types of crackers, and grilled Ciabatta. The Ciabatta had a thin coat of butter and salt which went well with the goat cheese. Being the cheese lovers that we are, I could have had several more of the cheese plates, but we wanted to try several of their offerings.
Bistro 7 uses local farm cheeses from New England states
Next we tried two of the small plates: sea scallops and smoked pork belly. The sea scallops came on a bed of cannellini bean salsa that was dressed in a slightly tangy dressing. Instead of wrapping the scallops in bacon, a pancetta chip in the form of a circle was presented as a garnish with the plate. Adding the bacon by this method offer the opportunity in enjoy it with either a bite of scallop or beans, thus not overpowering either.
The smoked pork belly with the tart balsamic cherries was an excellent combination and gave you a burst of flavor when you bit into it. The smoky and slightly saltiness of the pork belly paired well with the tartness of the balsamic cherries, they balanced each other out extremely well. Beluga lentils were used as the bed for the smoked pork belly adding another mild layer of flavor. The chili spiced kroepoek (cracker) added a crisp texture aspect to the plate.
Note: when they say small plate, they mean it. These were only enough for one person each so you won’t want to purchase them if you are planning on sharing.
The Filet Mignon with black garlic sauce, green asparagus, and pomme dauphinoise (potato au gratin) was one entrée we tried. The filet mignon was very tender and melted in my mouth. It was cooked exactly how I ordered it, medium rare. The filet mignon could have used a touch more seasoning, a little salt near the end of cooking to draw out more of the flavor. The fresh green asparagus was grilled to perfection with a slight crispness remaining. The pomme dauphinoise came as a round of thinly sliced potatoes in a cream sauce with a lightly grilled cucumber wrapped around them.
The other entrée we tried was the Crispy Seared Branzino Fillets with an artichoke-olive ragout, pecorino, and patatas bravas. The fish had a very light crust with crispy skin. The artichoke, olive, and onion ragout was a well balanced combination where the saltiness of the olives was offset by the sweetness of the onions and nutty flavor of the artichokes. The pecorino was in the sauce that accompanied the entrée. A texture balance was added by the patatas bravas, a Spanish crisp fired cubed potatoes. The patatas bravas were lightly seasoned with paprika, but lacked the accompanying sauce that typically comes with them.
For dessert we had the Classic Crème Brulee and the Grand Marnier Marinated Oranges with cinnamon gelato. The crème brulee was one of the best we have ever tried; the custard was rich, creamy, and slightly warm. At other restaurants, the crème brulee is often served cold, which makes me wonder how fresh it is when the layer of hard caramel was added. We prefer it warm and that indicates to me that the caramel layer was just added. The contrasting layer of hard caramel added the right amount of crunch to the crème brulee. You must try it when you dine at Bistro 7.
Along with our desserts we had an Expresso.
The best part of Grand Marnier Marinated Oranges with cinnamon gelato was the cinnamon gelato. I could have eaten just a bowl of the cinnamon gelato, it was rich and smooth with the cinnamon being very predominate. The oranges were okay. Spiced apples with the cinnamon gelato would be a better combination.
A couple things I always ask myself after visiting a new restaurant are: Did I enjoy the food and atmosphere of the restaurant? Would I go back again? In the case of Bistro 7, the answer to both of those questions is yes. The atmosphere was warm and relaxing, allowing for an enjoyable meal and evening. The prices were reasonable, if not a little less than other restaurants of similar scale.
The only down side to Bistro 7 was slightly slow service and the staff seemed to be a little inexperienced. However, they had only been opened for two weeks and hopefully that will change as they find their pace. On a positive side, the staff was friendly and always checking to make sure that everything was okay without given us that “hurry up and finish” feeling. This is good because there are times when I want to take my time and enjoy the meal and evening.
If you plan on dining at the Bistro 7, I suggest you get there as soon as they open, because every table is quickly occupied. We noticed that some people were enjoying their meal and conversations, in no hurry to leave. We were never rushed during the meal, as is the case in other restaurants that want to turn the table over in 45 to 60 minutes.
We also noticed that they offer a lot of Salads and saw many people enjoying them.
Disclosure: We were invited to Bistro 7 and were given a discount on our meal. All opinions are our own.