Last week I was in Chicago for a training program. As I only had one evening free, I emailed a friend (friend of my friend, Libby) and asked her if she was free. Yes she was free and excited to introduce me to somewhere fun in Chicago.
After a few suggestions we decided on Bin 36 – a wine and cheese restaurant. Two of my favorite things in the world.
The restaurant come wine and cheese store is huge and reminded me of a big, cavernous cafeteria. High ceilings, big open tables, a large bar in the center of the restaurant and a seating area around the cheese counter. We opted for the large wine bar as that was where there were more people. The restaurant was relatively quiet but I can imagine it being very busy on a Thursday through Saturday.
Our bartender came over immediately and greeted us with menus. I was a little overwhelmed as I love cheese and they had about 100 to choose from. We decided on a few snack bites to start while we thought about our cheese dinner. In fact, we ordered all three snacks they offered…. Basket of Gougeres – House Made Parmesan Cheese Puffs, Truffle Honey. These were incredible, soft, cheesy, fresh and I felt compelled to eat more than two or perhaps three, hmm I think it was four or five. They were that good… and the truffle honey – amazing! The House Marinated Olives – Thyme, Anise, Garlic & Orange Zest. Tanguy and delicious with a great mix of green and black. Finally, the Rosemary Roasted Mixed Nuts – Olive Oil & Sea Salt. These were fabulous. I think we polished off the whole dish. All three, considering the low cost, were more than enough for two people.
To go with our tasty bites we ordered some great wines. Diane went with some bubbles with the NV Rose, Varichon Et Clerc, Savoie and I tried the Chenin Blanc/Petite Chenin, Ken Forrester, Stellensboch, South Africa, which I found citrusy and fresh.
After our snacks, we were both quite full but felt we must have cheese. Instead of going for a cheese plate we ordered two cheeses that looked particularly appealing to us. Nancy’s Camembert, Old Chatham Shepherding Co., NY. This was like heaven… incredibly creamy and light with a wonderful strong after taste. We also enjoyed the L’Amuse Gouda, Holland – Imported and aged over 2 years. I don’t think I have ever in my life tasted a gouda quite like this. Rich and creamy in taste although the cheese was hard, with a hint of nut flavor and a little sweet. Absolutely delectable. Cheese for dinner – what could be better than that?
As I had an early meeting in the morning I knew I couldn’t drink another glass of wine. I know, how sensible of me right? I threw out the thought of having a half glass and our fabulously, friendly bartender said “of course you can have a half pour.” Cheese and wine – I was a very happy person!
I would like a place like this in Boston. It was so fun. I have also heard it is a little bit of a celebrity haunt but sadly not on the night I dined there. It was still a lovely evening with Diane and so much fun to be trying something new in a different city.