Happy Friday Everyone!
Today’s post is for a little weekend inspiration. If you don’t have plans already, or have plans but are looking for a place to go, you may want to take a look.
Bin Wine Cafe
is a great place to come to explore the world of wines and cheeses. The Cafe is in Wicker park and is a branch of the Bin 36 restaurant, which resides downtown on Dearborn, that offers a lighter menu, price, and atmosphere. My roommates and I took Missy to the Cafe before her birthday dinner on Saturday night. We all decided that we wanted to try a wine flight and that we would share some cheese as an appetizer before heading to our next destination.
The cafe has a real neighborhood feel, and fits in with the Wicker Park demeanor. The windows at the front of the cafe are simply an old glass garage door that is clearly from the store-front’s previous endeavors. The atmosphere is pretty much what you would expect from a wine cafe: a mixture of exposed brick and slightly quirky wooden furniture, with a modern colorful addition here and there.
We got to the cafe a little early for a Saturday night, but still within the dinner range. I was honestly a bit surprised at how quiet it was inside. Later as we finished up, the crowd had finally started to gather. I still however didn’t get the feel that you would have to wait for a walk-in table.
The service was really great. Our waitress was very friendly and open for questions/with suggestions. She was attentive without being pushy. Other staff members were also keeping an eye on our table. There was never an empty plate or glass on the table for longer than 1 minute before it was cleared.
The wine menu
is set up to offer about 4 or 5 different flights for both red and white wines. Each flight has the usual 4 wine selections. If you are not in the mood for a flight you can simply choose whatever glass you would like to try; full or half glass.
The preface of the menu states, “We encourage you to experiment. Try a tasting (2.5 oz glass pour), a full 6oz glass or a flight. A flight is four different tasting pours served side by side and is the perfect way to compare, contrast and explore. Create your own flight if you like!” So that’s exactly what we did!
3 of us ordered a wine flight that was already listed on the menu, and Kate arranged her own flight. After consulting with the waitress to help narrow down the wines Kate should try, the sommelier set up Kate’s flight to align in the exact order that he thought she should enjoy each of her selected wines.
The four of us have very similar wine palettes so it came as no surprise to see that Missy and Avery chose the same flight, that Avery almost chose the flight that I ordered, and that Kate ended up blindly choosing a glass from my flight and a glass from the other flight.
The wines are served with a little road map if you will. It navigates the order in which the restaurant suggests you should try the flight, and offers some information about the flavors and history of the wine. This little addition created a platform to learn and share information which really heightened the wine tasting experience.
I have a real love for Spanish and South American wines, so you can see my why my ultimate decision was on the flight named “Habla Espanol- Old School vs. New School”
Missy and Avery Ordered the “Left Coast Reds” flight, which I must admit was what I was going to choose until I saw my flight. Unfortunately, Kate and Missy were disappointed with what was the second glass in the Left Coast flight. Avery’s glass of that same wine was fantastic. We think that Avery’s glass must have been poured from a different bottle… With the exception of that little hiccup, we all enjoyed our flights.
|Someone was not happy about this picture..
|This one was though!
The cheese menu was set up in a similar fashion; offering flights or individual selections. The prices for the cheeses were a little much, so instead of ordering two cheese plates we decided to order the Bin Cafe cheese flight and a hot appetizer. The hot appetizer was baked goat cheese in a marinara type sauce served with pesto-y toasts. This dish was awesome. Nothing unusual seeing that I am almost positive I’ve had this exact dish before, but tasty none-the-less.
The flight named, Bin Cafe Cheese Flight, was the largest offering of cheese and is selected each day at the discretion of the chef (cheesemonger?). The cheeses were served with honey coated apples and super fine crispy toasts. Again, a navigation menu was included in the presentation to help guide our cheese explorations. I loved every cheese that came out, with the exception of the ricotta simply because it was just ricotta cheese to me, I guess I only appreciate it in Italian dishes.
Overall the experience was fantastic and I will be sure to come back again. The only thing that would honestly keep me from becoming a regular are the prices. The wine prices are fair enough and not the issue; rather, for the amount of cheese offered in each flight the prices are slightly high for the typical consumer.
Prices aside, I would recommend this place to anyone looking to have an experience along with his or her meal. Take a couple of girlfriends, a visiting guest, or a date–all will be impressed and satisfied!