by Lauren Mote
Bin there, done that.
Who expects to get good eats at 1:00 am the Saturday of Hallowe’en celebrations? Bin 941, uniquely located at 941 Davie St. prides themselves on being a great tapas bar, housing a menu of tapatizers and tongue twisters, with an inspiring wine program. Even at 1:30 in the morning, Bin attracts the picky night crowd as well as the exhausted restaurant industry people looking for a great bite and great people after work.
After a crazy busy evening at Lumière, exhaustion and stomach pain sets in. With little to no desire to dress-up in costume, nor to have an unhealthy dinner of “rot your teeth” Hallowe’en candy, I meet John after his busy night at Cioppino’s, and we head over to Davie St. to try this late night delight.
Owned by Chef Gord Martin and Sommelier Edward Perrow, the Bin concept attracts many people for many different reasons. The concise but innovative wine list provides something for everyone. My personal by the glass favourite is the German Spätlese Riesling. The music was loud, ambient and exciting. Never a dull moment, regardless of how tired you felt, the music kept you from draping yourself over the chair for a snooze.
Having just finished work, we were insanely hungry. Our server immediately rescues us with two bottles of Kronenbourg 1664, and we prompty place our order. A plate of Hand cut Yukon gold mountain “O” pepper pommes frites ($5), Sashimi grade Ahi Tuna ($15), Gorgonzola fresh basil pesto bruschetta ($8), Yucatan spice rub Bison flat iron steak ($15). Sounds good doesn’t it?
Somehow, the only thing that arrives within the first 30 minutes is the plate of frites. Is this really considered a course? I always thought of frites as an accompaniment. The frites came on an enormous plate, piled high to the ceiling, topped with scallions and a balsamic drizzle. After half of the plate was cleaned, I have to be honest here, I was getting a little sick of the frites. However, we saw our server peering from behind the bar without pouncing to the kitchen to pick up course two… will she not bring us the next course until the frites are extinct? Well, this is no time for an experimental game in service, we want our bison!
I love that Bin being such a late night hang out, you’re bound to run into someone you know whist sitting in the picture window facing the street. Apart from the dazzling Hallowe’en costumes waltzing by, or stumbling by, in walks my manager Sebastien Le Goff, accompanied by a friend. Sebastien was not in a costume, he’s just a well dressed Frenchman coming from an evening of intense wine service. In behind him walks Superman, Spiderman, and array of French Maids and Hulk Hogan. In retrospect, I wish I had of remembered to bring a notepad and a sharpie with me to get some Hallowe’en celebrity autographs.
As our food arrived, we were so impressed that each course was so well-crafted. Everything tasted great. The Ahi Tuna dish was very creative: the spicy tuna tartare acted as the salsa, slices of sashimi grade black and blue tuna atop a delicious ponzu sauce, and finished with a warm noodle and mushroom salad. Umm Um! It was definitely my favourite dish. Next was the bison dish. The meat was paper thin, super rare, and had a sweet but spicy taste to it; Bin calls this the Yucatan spice rub. The bison was accompanied with a mango sauce and a room temperature jicama and cilantro salad. Very refreshing, and a great combination of flavours. The spin on a traditional bruscetta was housemade foccacia, topped with pesto, gorgonzola and a balsamic reduction. It was ok, but the presence of the blue-vein cheese was completely lost amongst the other strong flavours.
After a couple of beers and a couple of plates, we were satisfied. This sure beats the Pizza Uno down the street at Granville, although for a buck-a-slice, I have been spotted standing in line too.
A few nights later, I returned for a cocktail session with the Globe and Mail’s famed food writer, Alexandra Gill. We were presented with a red pepper and fennel soup amuse-bouche to warm us up. We ordered the signature Flank Steak Frites ($15) to share. Once again, here returns the mountain of frites, as seen from a mile away, obstructing the view of everything in its path; hilarious. After enjoying the steak and a bottle of wine, I put my “twice in 4 days” Bin experience into the archives.
Whether the Bin line of restaurants are a hidden gem or out in the open in Vancouver, everyone should know about them. A great concept, great food, and my only complaint is that frites should be removed as a course line, so that patrons like us can eat what we really came for.
941 Davie St.
942 West Broadway