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Best Of 2014: Restaurant Wine List

Best Of 2014: Neighborhood Restaurant: South

Best Of 2014: Upscale Bar

Offering a "contemporary fusion menu" in the Ivywild neighborhood, with offerings like fried shishito peppers and butternut squash gnocchi, The Blue Star has found the recipe for success. Perhaps even more notable: It's unbeaten in our Wine List category since 2005. These days that's due in part to the impressive Sophie Oppelt, the restaurant's young sommelier, whom you can find on the dining room floor Thursdays through Sundays, answering questions and making recommendations from among nearly 800 wines. When not on the floor, Oppelt's often training staff or trying new bottles, looking for options that might be "geekier" or "fun," she says. "It's not about the alcohol," she adds. "It's about the art that's in the bottle, and wine represents that well. People put their blood, sweat and tears into grape juice, and that's beautiful to me." It gets even more beautiful for some customers on Sundays, when most of Blue Star's wine list is half-off — and if you have a bottle opened and don't finish it, you can take it home re-corked. — Robert Meyerowitz

Bites 2013: Almond Rosemary Crusted Salmon

From the "rooted entrees" section of the cocktail lounge menu comes this favorite dish, which places a focus on simple ingredients in less-is-more fashion. Almonds are crushed and mixed with rosemary leaves for a gluten-free salmon coating, which sees a browning during a pan sear. A honey Worcestershire hits umami notes while rice pilaf gets a paprika dusting and salt-and-pepper rain over haricot verts. ($16)

Price: $$$

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