Binkleys'- 1 for 3
This is the third time I've eaten at binkleys'.
The fist time was soon after opening and a great review in the paper. I was underwhelmed. food was ok but not special.
after hearing so much about it, we decided to go back on valentines day last year. it was awful. appetizers were devoid of flavor, both pieces of fish (don't eat meat or seafood) were over cooked and dry. Vowed I would not go back.
Deiced to give him another shot. Maybe the first time it was too new, and the second was a holiday with abnormal service.
Ttonight was a magical experience. wonderfully friendly servers, even with us arriving 1 hour early, were promptly seated. ordered a smoked halibut done extraordinarily well, and a beat salad - I think, which was fabulous. Had a black cod in mushroom ragout witch was to done perfectly and my wife had a veggie plate which was gorgeous and delicious. the deserts were fair- ginger chocolate explosion and a bread pudding thing. But the most impressive part was all the fun, incredibly tasty extras. fist leak soup with with truffle oil, next a deconstructed / liquefied version of a caprasee salad. also had a lava lamp special which was in a curved shot glass served on a coaster which changed colors of light. I''m not sure what was in it but it was nicely tart with a saltiness in the floating pieces that was very tasty. also had sorbet, exploding cookies (meringue with pop rocks in side),and a three piece desert tray. I know I'm missing a few.
The food we ordered was very good,the service exceptional, but the extra food made the meal. I this what you've all been getting? Why didn't we get it before? sometimes we order two apps and only one entree, (but usually a fairly nice bottle of wine $100-150) would that be why?
Well, I am very glad I re tried it. Definitely one of the best meals I've had in the phoenix area.
I have dined at Binkleys on a holiday (well, the day after Valentines') and found the food to be just as good as any other night. It's not like they're running a garbage-barge prix frixe, trying to clean out the walk-in. It's the same as any other day, the menu is part whatever's freshest in season and part what the chefs feel like putting together that night.
When I had that lava lamp consomme, mine was a crystal clear potato broth with a dusting of bacon powder on the rim of the glass, with chive and sour cream gelee spheres -- essentially a drinkable baked potato. Witty. What I like is that at Binkleys, and at the French Laundry, the amuse bouches change over the course of the evening -- someone eating an hour after you may receive four totally different bites than you did, each exceptionally crafted.
I'd say you did not receive amuses at your previous visits because you ordered a la carte, rather than getting the tasting menu. The service at places like this is designed to pace for the many courses of a tasting menu; the chef has pre-planned treats for people to be sitting a while, whether just designed to delight or to clear the palate for the next planned course. If you are not pacing your meal the same way others are in the dining room, he'd have no reason to send those out. Otherwise you get those complaints from people not used to dining in the convivial style -- "It took two hours to get through dinner, service was horrible, I'm never going back!" Some people expect dinner to take an hour, start to finish, and hate any deviation from that plan.
I'm giggling over the idea of a beat salad. In my mind, that would be something like --
sweet tangy globes
exploding in the conquest
(thumpa thumpa thumpa)
.... of my mind. Goatcheese, goat cheese, goat cheese
CHEVRE, and walnuts, (crash!)
Yeah, baby. *snaps fingers in lieu of applause*
"the most impressive part was all the fun, incredibly tasty extras"...
Amen to that! It makes the meal *magic**. More so if you go in without any clue of the treat you're about to receive... that's what happened to me the first time. I was delighted and totally charmed by the experience -- dinner and a theater, down to the beautifully choreographed service
Food was outstanding and surprising and inventive, but I think the thing that really makes me devoted to the restaurant is the fact that they really seem to care about their guests. Everything from a personalized menu on special occasions, a phone call the day after thanking you for coming in, and the time we had to wait for our reservations (sipping cool libations at the bar watching the action) they were so nice that we really didn't mind waiting at all
I also agree. At the last iteration of the International Wine & Food Society, Binkly's dinner, there were seven amuse bouches, in a five-course dinner. Each was a welcome treat.
I've gotta' go back, as we have done two events, and two "society" dinners, since wife and I just dined there. There is a difference.
re: Bill Hunt
I was with a friend on Friday who mentioned that he had a great experience with the Wine and Food Society also. But bill, you agree that the event dinners were different from just dinning on your own?
How did you order by yourself?
I need to solve this mystery. My wife and I joked that maybe the last time we ate at Binkerlys' not Binkleys' because they were like two different places. (this time my spell error was intended.) If I can crack the code I will go back often.
re: Goofy Yno
I have gone with the chef's tasting menu on all three of my "private dining" excursions. For our board meetings and the Wine & Food Society, a coordinator worked with the restaurant to create a menu. With the above mentioned board functions, I picked the wines, and their order of serving from their list. For IW&FS, they paired all of the wines with each dish/dishes.
All have been great, albeit different. Same for most restaurants, where we dine privately, and with groups for events. It's just difficult to make a direct comparison between the two styles.
So even if ordering ala carte, you receive the same number of amuse bouche, etc.?
I would have expected maybe one at the beginning of the meal, the rest as your ordered off the menu. Nice surprise.