bin 26 enoteca (boston)

For my birthday this year, Tony let me pick a restaurant for dinner. I decided to check out Bin 26 Enoteca in Beacon Hill because we have walked past it a few times and it looked like a nice little romantic restaurant. Charles Street has always had that sort of charming effect on me with it’s little boutique shops, old sidewalks, and perpetually burning gas lights. Plus it’s so easy to access via public transportation, so we hopped on the red line after work. We were pretty early for our 7 pm reservation, so we took a nice stroll through the Boston Common and the Public Garden. We saw the nesting swans, a wedding party all decked out in white tuxedos and hot pink gowns, and some beautiful flowers.

The hostess seated us even though we were half an hour early (the place hadn’t filled up yet anyway), and even though we said we would be happy to wait at the bar. They have a huge selection of wines available by the bottle — a large leather bookful actually — as well as some information about different wines and the regions they come from.

The wines by the glass section was a little confusing at first because they offer most them by four different measurements. They offer them in 100 ml, 250 ml, 500 ml and 750 ml increments. Well, 750 ml was easy to perceive as a full bottle, so 500 ml seemed like it would a little bit more than half a bottle. We each got 250 ml portions which were served in glass carafes. It ended up being like having slightly less than 2 glasses which was pretty reasonable.
I had the 2008 Chenin Blanc, Cave des Vignerons de Saumur ‘Les Plantagen√™ts’, Saumur, from France and it was quite good. Not overly sweet or acidic. Tony had the 2007 Projekt B, VdP de Vaucluse, from France and also really liked his pick. I think both wines went really well with our meals.

But before I talk about the food, I have to say that they win points for decor. I love this all of wine labels that cover every single bit of surface space. Now if I can just figure out how to take off our wine bottle labels gracefully and without tearing them, I think this would be a fantastic idea for decorating our future wine cellar (this is, of course, when I win the lottery …).

Now this is a view of the ceiling inside the women’s bathroom (I heard it’s the same in the men’s by the way). It’s (what seems like) a gazillion wine bottles hung from some sort of contraption from the ceiling. It makes for eerily dark lighting, but I think it’s pretty cool.

Okay, so on to food because that’s the real reason why you’re reading this, right?! (j/k!) We had the bruschetta appetizer which was served with sauteed mushrooms with garlic and fontina cheese. Oh. My. Gosh. I think I could eat ten plates of this … it was amazingly delicious! The simplicity of how the mushrooms were sauteed with just salt and pepper paired so well with the stronger fontina flavor. (I’m drooling as I’m typing this and reminiscing about how delicious they were!)

Tony enjoyed the spaghetti with scallops and shellfish in saffron tomato sauce entree (it’s too bad I couldn’t try any of it – it smelled so yummy). The scallops were nice and plump, and he could tell the pasta was freshly made.

I seem to be a sucker for grilled squid, and since I don’t see it on the menu very often, I went ahead and ordered the appetizer dish. It’s normally served with white beans on top of the arugula but I asked them to omit them due to my food allergy. I also got a side order of their garlic mashed potatoes. I was a little disappointed that the squid was served cold, but it still had a nice grilled flavor to it. The mashed potatoes were wonderfully light and not overly garlicky.

We split a lemon tart dessert and while I was in the bathroom earlier, Tony told our waitress that it was my birthday so they brought it out with a candle. It was so good! It kind of bummed me out because this in another example of how restaurants don’t disclose everything on the menu when they present something with additional ingredients (a pet peeve of mine!). We just took the strawberries and blackberry off as quickly as we could and I just crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t be too itchy later on.

[Of course in hindsight, it was probably the potatoes that made me the itchiest after all. Read about my nightshade woes here.]

Overall I think it was a good dining experience. I would definitely go back there some time during the week after work to hang out at the bar and eat five orders of the mushroom bruschetta (you think I’m kidding!) and enjoy some wine. It’s a great place for a romantic date and a small group outing. I’m not sure I would recommend it for families unless you went during the daytime (they do offer lunch). Huge wine selection, good sized food portions, beautiful decor, and super friendly wait staff.

Bin 26 Enoteca
26 Charles Street
Beacon Hill, MA 02114


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