Monday, August 4, 2008

Bin 26 Enoteca: A Dazzling Dinner

Sometimes when I visit a restaurant, it impresses me so much that I dine there again soon after my initial visit. I want to try more of their dishes, to maybe compare lunch and dinner, to determine whether it is consistent or not. I sometimes just can't wait.

Last weekend, I had lunch at Bin 26 Enoteca and it was an excellent experience. So I was anxious to try dinner there, to sample from their more extensive evening menu. In the end, dinner was even a better experience than lunch, and I still consider lunch to have been excellent.

We were early for our reservation but that was not a problem and we were seated right away. I first took some time to more fully peruse their extensive wine list. The list is more user friendly than many similar lists. The list actually contains some maps of wine regions, a glossary of wine terminology and an index of the wines. I think this does help to lessen the intimidation factor of a substantial wine list.

I chose to get a bottle of the 2006 Grosjean Freres Pinot Noir ($48) from the Valle D'Aosta region of Italy. This was a more international style wine, young and ready to drink. It had a light red color and an aromatic nose of lush berries. It was a very smooth wine with excellent fruit and a touch of spice. It could easily be drank on its own or with food. It was a pleasant wine and did pair well with most of our dinner.

The dinner menu is divided into numerous appetizers, cheeses, charcuteries, salads, soups and entrees. There is plenty of diversity and many of the dishes sounded very appealing. Though there is an Italian dimension to all of the dishes, little of it is of the traditional, or usual, Italian dishes. You won't find Veal Parmigiana or Chicken Cacciatore. But you will find entrees like Smoked Silver Salmon Farfalle with a Vodka Cream Sauce and Pork Tenderloin wrapped in Speck with an Apple Cherry Sauce. There were even a couple of special entrees that evening.

We began our meal with the Saffron Rissotto Balls Stuffed with Fontina ($8), basically a type of arancini. The dish consists of two Rissotto balls, larger than golfballs, atop some fresh greens. The Rissotto balls were lightly breaded and had been fried to just the perfect exterior crispness. The rice within was also cooked just right, surrounding the creamy, melted fontina. An excellent blend of flavors and textures, making a very good start to our dinner.

Next up was a Mixed Salad with Crispy Parmesan ($9) and Smoked Duck Carpaccio ($8). The salad was very fresh and had a large Parmesan crisp on the side. A simple dish but executed perfectly. The Duck Carpaccio was a new addition to their menu and was made on the premises. The dish consisted of about six, thin and rectangular pieces of smoked duck. Each piece had a thin strip of fat above the meat. The duck had a very nice smoky flavor and was also incredibly tender, almost melting in my mouth. I would very much recommend this dish.

For our entrees, we had Scallops in a Curry Sauce ($24) and one of the specials, a Braised Shoulder of Wild Boar ($27). There were three large scallops that were cooked perfectly, very tender and flavorful. The curry sauce was mild rather than spicy, but also very flavorful. The dish also came with a number of tiny clams of some sort, again tender and delicious. The Wild Boar was amazing! You receive a large chunk of slow braised meat in a port wine sauce atop creamy polenta and with fresh haricort vert. Though I received a special knife for the boar, it was unneccesary. The meat was so tender than the fork alone was sufficient to break it apart. It was juicy, flavorful and so very tender. No bone, no fat, just all meat. The polenta was also quite good, with a very creamy texture.

Though fairly full from everything so far, we just had to try their desserts. First there was the Chocolate Berry Stack ($9), a decadently rich chocolate cake with a fresh berry mixture above it. Definitely a choice for chocolate lover's. We also had a new addition, a Goat Cheese Cake ($9). This consisted of a thin layer of cake topped by a goat cheese mixture, topped by a port sauce. An intriguing dish that certainly tasted of goat cheese and actually made for a very good dessert. To accompany the desserts, we had coffee (also excellent) and a glass of Amontillado (a fine Sherry).

All of the food was delicious, obviously very fresh, and cooked just right. I could not have asked any more from any of the dishes we had. I think the food is reasonably priced for the quantity and quality you receive.

Service was excellent. Our main server, Ethan, was attentive, knowledgeable and very personable. He also seemed very genuine. For example, he told me that he wanted to have some of the wild boar later that night after his shift. He really seemed as if he meant that, giving me an impression of someone who truly loved good food. All of the other staff that interacted with us were equally as good.

Overall, this was a top-notch evening with not the slightest of complaints. The food, wine and service all came together in perfect unity. I heartily recommend that you check out this restaurant, for either lunch or dinner. I think it would work well for a couple seeking a more intimate meal, as well as a group seeking a fun time.

I think I now need to check out Lala Rokh, their Persian restaurant which is also on Beacon Hill.

Bin 26 Enoteca
26 Charles Street (Beacon Hill)
Boston, MA
Phone: 617-723-5939

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