A Cafe Bites Nibble

Michael Housewright, the Director of Operations for the new Block 7 Wine Company (720 Shepherd, 713-572-2565), has spent 15 years of his life dedicated to wine. His resume includes Pogo's in Dallas, the Dallas Central Market, the Austin Wine Merchant, Vinfolio in San Francisco, and the Tasting Room and Max's Wine Bar here in Houston, to name but a few. He has also lived in Italy.

Housewright is very excited about Block 7. "The concept is simple," he says. "Find a high-traffic, growing area where the rent is reasonable, and sell all the wines we sell at our retail store by the glass with no restaurant mark-up and no corkage fee." Block 7 is in an 8,000-sauare-foot building that used to be a Western Appliance Store. There's a sommelier, a beer guy and, running the kitchen, chef Loren Root. "His menu is very casual, and we always use the best ingredients," says Housewright. "The flat breads have really taken off, especially the seared rabbit loin, which is topped with yellow tomatoes and caramelized onions." He adds, "Loren is shooting for 'best burger' with our Block 7 Burger, which is made with dry-aged beef and a slice of Gruyere."

The menu, which is still evolving, is fairly simple, yet chosen with care, with first-class ingredients. The sautéed mushroom flatbread with taleggio cheese, spicy arugula and fresh thyme was outstanding, and the fries so good, they could easily make a meal by themselves - especially washed down with a bottle of the Austrian Ecker Zwiegelt, which can be purchased in the retail store for $13.99.

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