More sanding, painting the front with another coat and some sort of satin semi gloss finish. I’d like to keep the color of the wood and not darken it (like to keep it light in color) with the semi gloss... any recommendations welcome there too..
I recently finished an all Birch kitchen bar with satin clear lacquer and it turned out great (the bar top was done in a food safe waterlox). It has a quick drying time which minimizes dust and bug accumulation, lays down nice, and can be done in semigloss. It did add a slight yellow tint to the birch which may not be what you are after, but that may have been specific to the product I was using. The stuff is toxic as hell as it is contains MEK as the solvent, so take appropriate precautions if you use it.
Otherwise I believe a clear polyurethane would keep the color closer to raw. I'm sure those with more finishing experience would be able to chime in on that.