Step into the resplendent colonial structure of Leo Katz’s Usaquén steakhouse and you’ll find a bustling food scene that goes beyond traditional grilled meats. This architectural heritage house is an exuberant restaurant serving contemporary cuisine and appealing to different moods and budgets.

The formal wait staff offer a choice of the “see and be seen” terrace or the more demure dining alcove. After a long day, the quieter setting suits me. There is no lack of imagination at 7.16 and I feel compelled to wander its rooms, the outdoor patio complete with a brick oven.

The challenge of finding good wine, at reasonable prices, is not new. While 7.16 has an extensive wine list, that night, uncharacteristically, I am drawn to the bottle placed as adornment on the table. It is a 2007 Casa Lapostolle, from Chile’s Rapel Valley, a wine where the merlot grape dominates. It has a medium to heavy tendency and is made by the Marnier Lapostolle family of Grand Marnier fame. Like the famed orange liqueur, it is smooth.

Our waiter is professional guiding me though a myriad of menus, which seem more complicated than necessary. There are hot dogs, wings and burgers nestled snuggly alongside lobster tails, Kobe beef and tartar. Confusing? Not really. It is what 7.16 wants to be. Everything and anything goes here. The kitchen turns out memorable starters such as fried artichoke hearts, imperceptibly battered and slightly oily leading the way. The chorizos in wine are worthy of a good bread-dipping.

Our waiter volunteers that in addition to the skillet bread, thick cuts of beef are seared and cooked in the diner’s wood oven. Too difficult to resist I order a Punta de Anca, a good option considering its menu neighbors are American Sirloin or the Wagyu Kobe steak. The Colombian steak proved juicy, earthy and served with plenty of crispy fries. It should be noted that there are also fabulous salads and soups, and it was refreshing to see a kosher section on the menu.

High heat intensifies flavors and fruit is no exception. The oven roasted seasonal fruits were creatively ambitious. Hints of clove and anise accentuated fragrant chocolate pistachio ice cream. While all fruits don’t caramelize equally, the roasted plum was transformed into an encased pudding. The papaya though, was a bit too bold. For some, chocolate is a must to end the meal and the Notre Dame is 7.16’s salute to that classic French cake, a luxurious combination of white and dark chocolate mousse capped with a bittersweet fondant sitting on a thin cookie crust.

Equally suited for celebrations and power lunches, 7.16 is also an ideal restaurant to break the routine of an afternoon browsing Usaquén’s many boutiques. Give yourself time to enjoy the setting and the culinary choices of this upscale eatery.

 

Calle 119B No. 6-28