The former Avery’s Wine Bar in Redmond is now the 750 Wine Bar & Bistro. If you liked it before, chances are you’ll like it even better now. I know that I do.
The mother-daughter team of Rebecca Sullivan and Emma Farnsworth — Sullivan a restaurant pro from eastern Idaho, Farnsworth a recent graduate of the University of Idaho — bought the establishment from another mother and daughter in mid-June.
They have maintained the emphasis on quality wines by the glass and bottle, and on performances by leading local musicians, even as they have stepped up the quality of food.
Named for the size of a standard 750-milliliter wine bottle, this is an elegant and intimate cafe with low lighting and rich wood decor reminiscent of a European country bistro. There are seats for no more than two dozen guests at six tables and a quaint bar. Solo artists often perform in one corner of the room.
Farnsworth handles the baking and the front of the house; she can usually be found hustling between patrons at the bar and at tables, with a style that is at once attentive and unobtrusive. Although she has had limited prior restaurant experience, she seems a natural for the role, handling service issues seamlessly with assistance only during the busiest hours.
Sullivan, who holds forth in the kitchen, prepares a limited home-style menu that features appetizers, tapas-style small plates and a few desserts. The list is augmented by a daily list of blackboard specials, prepared on a rotating schedule of Thai, Mexican, Greek-Italian and American dishes.
Dinner for two
On an initial visit to 750, a companion and I shared three dishes.
We started with a generous salad of spring greens topped with hazelnuts, bleu cheese crumbles and sliced pears, roasted with a honey glaze. An ample amount of thyme vinaigrette dressing, along with an herbed bruschetta, made this an excellent salad.
A hearty Southwestern-style stew was perfect for a chilly night. Cooked as a posole with white hominy as its main ingredient, it was prepared with chunks of tender pork and ancho (poblano) chilies, along with onions and tomatoes. Green onions and sour cream topped the stew. My only complaint was that a piece of heated jalapeño cornbread was a little dry; honey helped the flavor.
The only item among our three orders that was listed on the daily menu, and was not among the blackboard specials, was macaroni and cheese. Six separate cheeses and plentiful bacon crumbles were stirred into the noodle dish, which was served with garlic toast. Although there was really nothing here to surprise the palate, there didn’t need to be; it was a nice late-autumn dish to accompany with a glass of Argentine malbec.
A solo visit
My meal on a second occasion, a few nights later, followed a similar pattern. The dishes I chose did not represent fine dining, but they were solid and filling comfort food — the sort of fare I look for when I’m out for casual bites with friends.
I started with an appetizer of baked jalapeño peppers, sliced lengthwise into eight bites, stuffed with cheddar and jack cheeses and served with lime slices. Those with a few seeds left inside the capsicum had considerably more bite than the others! They were presented with two very different sauces, a spicy red one flavored with cayenne pepper, and a sweet white honey-flavored sauce.
Broad, flat pappardelle noodles, made in the bistro’s own pasta maker, were a Mediterranean special prepared in vegetarian style with fresh spinach and ricotta cheese. Although I enjoyed this dish, I felt that it could have used more seasoning — if not salt and pepper, at least an herb like thyme. It was served with ground Parmesan cheese and a huge sprig of Italian parsley.
The crowning touch was a rich and silky chocolate mocha cake, made that same afternoon by Farnsworth. If all restaurant desserts were as tantalizing as this one, I am sure I would sample them more frequently.
The 750 serves 17 wines by the glass, including seven reds and four whites, as well as choices in the rose, sparkling and dessert-wine categories. A wide range of select bottled vintages are also offered, and several local beers are featured on tap.
In summer, a broad side patio and front deck double the capacity of the bistro. A lighter menu is also offered in warmer weather. But for me, the winterized comfort food works just fine.
Longtime Bend chef David Nathan Hatfield has sold Cafe 3456, his establishment for five years, and accepted a position as executive chef at downtown Seattle’s luxurious Alexis Hotel. New owners will continue to operate Hatfield’s former restaurant, which is located adjacent to the Bend Municipal Airport. Open 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day. 63136 Powell Butte Highway, Bend; www.cafe3456bend.com or 541-318-8989.
Slick’s Que Co. has countered conventional wisdom by lowering its prices and increasing its portion sizes. Plates of pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked turkey breast and other meats are now available in two sizes, 6 (up from 5½) and 10 ounces, as full meals with side dishes. Prices that begin at $7.25 per plate are a quarter less than previously. A combo platter, with 10 ounces of two meats, is now $12.75. Open in Bend 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday (212 N.E. Revere Ave.; 541-647-2114); in Sisters 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Wednesday (240 E. Cascade Ave.; 541-719-0580); www.slicksqueco.com.