Downtown’s new standard hits high notes
By Greg Sabin
In jazz parlance, a standard is a tune everyone knows and every musician can play. An artist plays a standard to put their stamp on it, toy with it or mold it to their personality.
Downtown’s new restaurant The 7th Street Standard at the Hyatt Centric doesn’t get its name by coincidence. Chef Ravin Patel takes common food constructs and makes them his own. Familiar recipes play with unfamiliar rhythms.
He juggles flavors from multiple continents, often in the same dish. Improvisation feels like an ingredient, yet it’s born of intense study and years of perfecting his craft.
Patel worked at Michelin-starred kitchens and lent his skill to the Selland restaurant group. His knowledge of local, national and international cuisine is on display in a menu that is tight, approachable and titillating.
The braised lamb sums up the chef’s talent. It’s a signature tune. A 12-hour braise lets spices infuse every corner of the meat. Notes of cumin, anise and chili play throughout the generous chunk of locally raised lamb. While the flavors reach from the Americas to the Middle East, the plate comes straight out of Patel’s legacy.
Spread beneath the lamb is a significant portion of biryani. The rice dish originated in India but is found on tables throughout the world. Patel’s version has nods to England’s Indian diaspora (gin-soaked raisins), the Levant (za’atar spice) and Italy (gremolata). The fluffy bed of rice and touches of spice meet in harmony.
Other dishes show influences from Vietnam, Japan and an Iowa truck stop. No kidding, the chicken and dumplings are a down-home version of the classic, beautifully rendered. It’s the country tune played by a jazz ensemble to show how hip they are.
Speaking of a band, Patel has chosen mates with their own unique visions, such as chocolatier and pastry chef Ramon Perez. Perez’s cream puffs are worth the visit, marrying hazelnut praline ice cream with chocolate and caramel, and wrapping it in a dense, flaky puff shell.
Each element within the new restaurant swings with a musical theme. Newspaper clippings decorate the walls, telling the story of the Clayton Club, a jazz and entertainment lounge that stood on the same footprint. The Clayton was a Downtown fixture. One clipping heralds a six-night run by Louis Armstrong and his band.
A trumpet sits on a shelf above the bar, paying mute attention to the scene below. The cocktail scene jumps. A frosty glass overflows with pebble ice and wets the whistle with bourbon, ginger, lemon, soda and apple juice. “Them Apples,” it’s called.
The “MXOF” combines unlikely ingredients of tequila, spiced agave and chocolate mole.
Each drink from the commodious bar sizzles. Much like the main menu, the bar succeeds by drawing in the customer with the familiar and taking a sharp turn with unexpected preparation or ingredients.
A single glyph emblazons the front door, is stamped on the menu and finds its way into a number of spots within the lushly decorated dining room. The casual observer sees the glyph as a “7.”
But, if you know musical notation, you’ll recognize the symbol as an eighth rest.
It’s a clever wink toward the musical past and to the fine show the team at The 7th Street Standard produces every night. It’s a show not to miss.
The 7th Street Standard is at 1122 Seventh St.; (916) 898-1100; the7thstreetstandard.com.
Greg Sabin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.