Gettin' Piggy With It at Bin 8945
The weekly Friday Pig Roast at the sadly defunct Norman's was always my favorite weekend activity, so when I heard that Bin 8945 would be holding a Caja China Pig Roast on Sundays I secured the first available res I could get hold of. When my regular partner in porkiness bailed on me, I enlisted the help of a man whom I knew would not only embrace the mission at hand but see it through with finesse. Sauce, your fans salute you.
The Pig Roast at Bin consists of a 4 course tasting menu with a set price of $45. They offer a wine pairing for an additional $25, but we opted to share a bottle of Pinot Blanco instead. This wine was crisp with just the right amount of fruit and proved the perfect counterfoil to the rich courses that lay ahead of us.
We started with an amuse of watermelon gazpacho with chive and cucumber, a light and refreshing opener. The next course was an interpretation of a shrimp po' boy, consisting of duck fat fries topped with sauteed shrimp and a remoulade. The fries were the star of this dish, fabulously crisp and rich in comparison to the bright shrimp and the tangy sauce.
Next up was the Puerco Frito, fried porky bits paired with heirloom tomato, guacamole and a crumble of hardboiled egg. I thought the egg was superfluous as it added neither flavor nor much texture to the dish. The pork was deliciously crispy and the accompanying basil oil gave it just the right hint of herbaceousness. We both commented that if we had a massive pile of the pork with a stack of tortillas we'd be in heaven.
The best course of the evening was the roasted pork on potato puree with truffles and fig. The pork was meltingly tender, perfectly sauced and garnished with a satisfying chicharron crisp. I could have eaten plate upon plate of this, but tried to maintain my not-entirely-ladylike dignity. It was difficult to contain myself, but I think I managed to hold it together sufficiently. Nearly.
The last course was a choice of either a creme fraiche panna cotta topped with summer berries or a cheese selection. We opted for one of each to mix and match, and enjoyed a glass of Austrian riesling and a glass of rose to match each of our choices. Both the dessert and the cheeses were superb and I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite.
Towards the end of our meal, our server surprised us with an order of the house special "corn dog", which is actually a piece of pork belly wrapped in caul fat, panko crusted, fried in duck fat and presented on a stick. This was paired with a smoky beer that I cannot adequately describe. To me, it tasted like a fizzy glass of liquid smoke, not quite to my liking but perhaps Sauce can elaborate further. Another surprise came in the form of 2 cupcakes as another gift from the chef, one each in chocolate and vanilla topped with vanilla frosting. A very nice touch despite my repeated failure to blow out the candle.
All in all, I was extremely satisfied with both the meal and the company, and thoroughly enjoyed my evening. Run, don't walk to Bin's Pig Roast, and be sure to take the Sauce along with you. You won't be disappointed.
Pigskin Sunday at Bin has made me a fan.
I arrived around half an hour before Boo with the intent to peruse the wine list. While working on a surprisingly good flute of sparkling rosé from Albuquerque, I overheard the staff talk about a corn dog dish. I butted in and remarked how monumentally phenomenal it sounded -- pork belly wrapped in caul fat, breaded with panko and deep fried in duck fat. I remarked that it could be served with a side dish of crushed glass and I would still eat it. And so when Boo arrived, I jokingly asked our server if corn dog would be part of the menu.
Boo's write-up is spot on, except she downplays how really good those home fries were that accompanied the puerco frito. Personally, I would have loved a scrambled egg right there, and would have been pretty happy about it. Also, the roasted pork belly on potato puree is exactly as good as you think it would be, and the combination of burgundy truffle and sliced fig gave the potato puree much more complexity than it deserved. There really were no weak points at any point, and even the cheese plate had an excellent tallegio as part of its spectrum.
The smoked beer that was served with our surrpise corn dog was Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier ("rauchbier" is a literal translation of "smoked beer") and was of their Urbock variety. I remarked at the time that it reminded me of a carbonated single malt, but I have to say that later that evening, I made my way to Bowery for a snifter of Wathens and that, my friends, made this urbock taste like root beer. I did think the smoky characteristic was a nice "pairing" but honestly I would have been happier if they had gone against the grain and paired the corn dog with something spicy like a Rhone varietal to cut through the richness.
That being said, the corn dog was free, so I might as well complain about the lack of NY-style pizza on the Bin 8945 menu. The corn dog is available typically in the middle of the week as part of the tasting menu -- I would call ahead to ask for it.
Boo had to return home to her significant other, and I had to return home to, well, nothing, so I had the cabbie drop me off at Charcoal. I wanted so badly to give them another chance, but the space was empty and I walked right back out. I made way to the still busy Bowery and sipped a drink while watching sports scores flicker across the screen. Some people like it when a night of refinement is puctuated with a little of debauchery. I sat there with my nightcap with visions of home fries and corn dogs dancing in my head.
6268 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
8945 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Great reviews from both of you.
Bin8945 really doesn't get enough love on this board ... maybe that's a good thing.
I forgot to add that it was Chef Mike's birthday so they let us partake in some birfday cupcake. Also, I erred -- the home fries were with the po' boy, not the puerco frito.