I can't tell you how many times we've driven aimlessly around town trying to settle on just that right French bistro experience but to no avail. Simple stuff really but we never quite find it. Liked Pastis more before the remodel when you could get a familiar Lyonnaise salad with poached egg, love the setting at Cafe Des Artistes but wish the food were better, like the food at Vert but wish the setting were better, never quite warmed up to Mimosa, etc. Recently loved the quirky modesty of Le Jardin on Robertson; smart cooking with inexpensive product - and she'll fill a flower order in between courses!
We may have unexpectedly found what we've been looking for all this time last night at the new Bin 8945, an American wine bar and bistro, in West Hollywood. Steamed mussels in a coconut curry broth with homemade Italian sausage was a generous appetizer for two at $16 that could easily be an entree on its own. My friend's steak frites for $29 had great peppery and sweet flavor served with amazing duck fat fries reminiscent of those great Belgium fries at Max in Sherman Oaks. My duck leg confit for $27 was both succulent and tender on a bed of flageolet beans, cavelo nero and pancetta. Great stuff! We finished with a generous cheese plate for $6 where you choose three out of five and a warm heath bar brownie with caramel and homemade ice cream for $8. Excellent coffee served in a French press comes from a new producer up the street whose name I can't remember.
But wine is the order of the day and I'll let others here speak to the breadth and variety of the selection. Suffice it to say that we were very impressed and to be able to order the '97 Etude pinot Noir for $45 was welcomed nostalgia. It remains to be seen if Bin 8945 will have the impact of A.O.C. but in its passion and purpose it certainly competes and in true bistro fashion it brings the whole experience right out onto the street, shoulder to shoulder. (Who says there is no night life in L.A.? Whew!) Spring for the $6 valet in back. Parking at Staples Center is easier. $120 for two before tip. Polished and professional service with heart. And try to grab the brain child of this whole affair, David Haskell, for some quick wine discourse. He's the young guy bussing tables, decanting wine and welcoming people. Somehow, one imagines he dressed differently at Le Cirque.
Interestingly enough, I too ate there last night, and must agree with your well-written thoughts. This place is a treasure that needs nurturing slowly and should become one of the better dining options in Los Angeles once the opening week jitters wear off and David and staff really fine-tune the operation.
The wine selection is VERY wide, and while at the moment the food selection is much narrower of focus to allow the kitchen the time to get everything well tuned, a friend and I went and split the aforementioned mussels appetizer which is also available as a larger main if desired. The coconut/curry-based sauce is very good, spicy in a good way, yet not of the hot variety. Would order these every time they were that good.
Also split the salt cod brandade, which is typically something I might overlook yet, in this kitchen's hands, it was a very pleasant surprise.
David matched the cod with two whites, and the mussels as a second course with two reds, with 3 of 4 really hitting the mark. A Sicilian red did not do it for me, yet companion thought it was fine enough and went with the food.
Dessert was a raisin duff, if you will, meaning a raisin-based cake with a hard sauce, which is very tasty.
Truly a superb experience, especially for a place that only opened this past Tuesday.
Menu will be widening, as well as changing virtually every week, so David said. Only time will tell, but my tastebuds will be returning to find out.
And the staff, from greeter/hostess to wait-staff to bussers to David himself are all really eager to provide you with a reason to return again and again. Adam, our server, is really interested in wines, and it showed last night.
www.bin8945.com provides more info.
8945 Santa Monica Blvd., 310.550.8945, just east of Robertson.
Always good to hear about a good new place, however I'm a little confused by the math:
i'm not including the coffee or tax, which would add 15 minimum, so we get to $146. and i'm assuming you ordered nothing else.
did they comp you anything?
please explain, inquiring minds want to know.
I second the praise of the wine list, but I thought the food was merely adequate and a bit overpriced (with the exception of the cheese course, which was great). The reason to go is wine wine wine, and the sommelier really takes care of everyone. We asked for a flight of red wines, told our server the types of wines we liked, and voila, tastes of six fascinating (and new to us) wines show up in front of us. I'd recomend going for the wine and getting some appetizers or small plates to share.
Went recently taking a visiting chowhound (we travel together to the ends of the earth for good food) for her 40th. We had a fantastic time. Let our waiter, who was incredibly knowledgeable, pair our wines w/ the dishes we ordered. It was just amazing. And, to try as many as possible, he brought us three glasses and split them amongst us w/out pretention. Absolutely LOVED the mussels - strange combo of coconut curry and italian sausage - but it works! Not cheap - about $115 each - but this was a real splurge dinner complete w/ sparkling and oysters to start and fantastic ports, etc. w/ dessert to finish. The waiter bought our desserts which was nice considering he "chose" the $20, $15 and $10 after dinner drinks for each of us. LOVED IT!