Friday, December 15, 2006

Let's eat: Bin 8945

I'd noticed Bin 8945 when trapped in traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood (it's just east of Robertson) -- when you spend that much time moving at 5 miles an hour, you tend to notice the comings and goings of restaurants. Then S. Irene went there this summer and everybody knew about it.

The menu at Bin 8945 is organized by the size of portion, smallish to largish (the large plates are full dinner portions), which makes a good case for sharing or even just for a nosh. There are 5 cheeses to choose from, and a similar list of charcuterie. The wine list is voluminous, with tabbed sections that made me wonder when the quiz was coming up.

My friend J is meticulous (which I prefer to "fussy") so we shared a cheese plate with Cabrales (very good) and two other cheeses, a gruyere and an Italian soft cheese that was so outstanding that I've completely forgotten its name. She moved on to the 8945 salad, butter lettuce, Gorgonzola, and walnuts, which she liked very much with the dressing on the side, and a roasted garnet yam, ginger butter on the side, which looked delish. I went for the small size (it wasn't small at all) of mussels in coconut milk and red chili paste with spicy sausage made on site. With them, our barkeep suggested an order of the duck fat frites....difficult to resist. The frites alone would probably make a meal; they were crisp, light, and had a ducky wisp of flavor.

Our wines were great: J had Morgon, a light French red, that suited her fine; I had a Parador tempranillo from Napa that packed rather a big round cherry punch, followed up with a Caselle from Italy's heel that went great with the mussels.

The barkeep's wine suggestions were right on, and he poured tastes with great generosity. Sitting at the bar is fun, but the stools are VERY uncomfortable -- one feels as if one's behind is sliding away from the bar, and the backs are awkward, so either one sits up straight without support or slumps. Not good, but extra points for the hooks under the bar for one's items. Also: Make a reservation. If we had, we wouldn't have been sitting at the bar.

Verdict: I'll be back. Vin et frites, here I come!

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