Bin 8945
8945 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 550-8945

The Scene: New and groovy, and right in the thick of things.
Cuisine: Caribbean meets North Africa, along with a glass of wine.
Must Try: Heath Bar Brownie a la Mode
Star Rating: 3 of 4
Average Cost: $26-$29 for “smallish” Entrees

There’s something new, something different, and something simply elegant on the Boulevard…and it’s not “Mamma” in a new Chanel outfit; it’s a magnificent redo of the old Greenery. Interior designed by Wade Robinson of Silver Lake, the cement floors and used brick main wall accent an elegant, glass-encased wine rack displaying 1,200 bottles of delicious varietals begging to be tasted. Comfortable seats indoors are perfect for friends, although may be a bit too communal for an intimate first date. A simple and elegant shelf traverses the brick wall, carrying on it a myriad of different-shaped glass decanters, all of which bespeak wine and informality. A bar crosses the other side of the small, but well-planned room (the owner, adorable and fit David Haskell, designed the working spaces of the restaurant). The outdoor patio is perfect for summer nights, with seating of up to twenty folks, but unfortunately too intimate enough to accommodate parties in excess of six. Although the patio chairs are pretty to look at, be prepared to overcome comfort for the appetizing selection of food treats and the unlimited selection of West Hollywood flora and fauna parading past your table.

You won’t see tablecloths at this restaurant because David, perpetually in his T-shirt, jeans and Panerai, has created a restaurant that screams “no pretense.” Although all the cloth napkins are ironed on the premises and impeccably folded, the paper placemats and napkins all carry a logo of a red wineglass stain, which is meant to signify that “wine is just wine” so don’t get carried away with it. We were, in fact, carried away with the extensive selection, ranging to the most expensive wine at $500 a bottle, an ’85 Domaine Comte de George de Vogue, but still well priced, with the cheapest bottle of wine going for $32, the Chateau Fontalem. The “Bin” offers at least a hundred wines for $50 or less per bottle, and there is a tremendously delicious selection of wine by the glass at $8 per glass; we especially enjoyed a Greek selection (love those Greeks), Cheateau Clauss from Petroto at only $8. On the various times we visited the restaurant, we enjoyed a new selection each and every time; just tell David your desired taste and he will facilitate it. He was right on each time with us.

Our first visit to the restaurant was during their second week of operation, and the service was friendly, but not quite yet in place. Our follow-up visits show that David Haskell is on track, and the service was friendly, efficient, and refreshing. Again, on the first visit, unfortunately the servers brought food to the table, putting it on all the wrong destinations, a big “no-no” for the Dining Duo when paying the healthy price tab that the “Bin” commands. But more about the check later.

All of our food selections proved to be superb, delivered on beautiful plates, interesting cutlery, and presenting the fluids in delicately sculpted glasses (we particularly enjoy the water glass, which seemed to have come from a more elegant table setting). The creative food is divided into small, slightly larger and even larger plates. Having tasted most things on the menu, we highly recommend the Bin 8945 salad at $12 with very fresh greens, spectacular blue cheese, candied nuts and one of Michael's favorites, heirloom apples. The meat empanadas at $9 are tasty and we found the decadent Gorgonzola fritters, loaded with cheese and calories, sensational at $10.

In the larger plates, the chef, Matt Carpenter's Jerk Chicken, although pricey at $27 was exquisitely prepared, with just enough spice, served tender and moist. Our friend James savored the Steak which was marinated in Belgian beer with perfect "duck fat" fries, exactly as ordered medium rare at $29. Leave room for a must-have Heath Bar Brownie topped with heath bar crunch ice cream that was amongst the best brownies we have enjoyed in a long time.

Although the portions were too small for our tastes and dinner will probably set you back at a pricey $50-$70 a person, it’s about time that we see an upscale style come to our cherished boulevard. With all the disposable income in our community, it’s always refreshing to find food presentations, combined with the eagerness of the staff to please and serve, topped off with the fact that they appear to “not be trying too hard” to create a presentation. Oh, and Sean the waiter is absolutely adorable and tells us he has some hidden assets beyond waiting tables. With the local four corners offering such downscale selections as “The Voodoo Room”, Hamburger Haven (great burgers), and Pavilions, it’s nice to find a little bastion of delectable treats and comfortable service creeping into our neighborhood. And if you don’t think you hit the mother lode at this restaurant, there’s always that old stand-by right across the street.

Posted by The Dining Duo | 2:51 PM | , , , , | 0 comments »

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