If you’re ever in San Francisco and find yourself in the Chestnut Street area (it runs parallel to Lombard Street; and Ghiradelli Square, Fort Mason, and the Palace of Fine Arts are nearby) looking for a place to eat, check out Bin 38. My husband and I stopped in this part of SF after dropping a friend off at the airport one afternoon. I remember driving through it once or twice when I used to live in California with a couple of friends, but I don’t remember it being quite this charming. It’s lined with an eclectic selection of shops and it seems like a place where locals like to hang out (read: not just full of tourists).
It was an unusually warm day in the city (er, at least warmer than we would have ever expected for SF) so we opted to sit in the back patio area of the restaurant. We decided on trying the restaurant about 15 minutes before they actually opened and they were kind enough to seat us anyway. The patio area is covered by a clear tarp and has heating lamps so it was nice and cozy. There is a small area in the back by a fire pit too. (And as you can see, there’s enough room for a stroller.)
Being a big fan of wine, I was thoroughly impressed by such a huge selection of wine-by-the-glass options – two whole pages full! They offer both 1/2 and full glass options which is great if you’re in the mood to try different kinds with your meal.
My husband is a cab-sauv lover so he tried their “Cabernet Three-Way” wine flight. Of the three, the Terra Valentine cabernet was his favorite. Unsurprisingly, it’s a California wine (he favors them) and the winery is in St. Helena; definitely added to our list of wineries to check out the next time we are in the Napa region.
We started off with the roasted brussel sprouts as an appetizer. It’s served with a lemon mayo on the side for dipping. The roasted sprouts were quite delicious and full of flavor on their own, but the mayo added a nice little tang to them. I had a glass of the Darcie Kent Grüner Veltliner which was the suggested wine pairing for the dish and it was a very nice, light white wine.
For our entrees, my husband went with their grilled country pork chop which is served over salted pork and beans, and with broccoli rabe and bagna cauda (you’ll have to read what that is on Wikipedia). As you can see, the portion was quite large – that’s one big chop! It was cooked perfectly moist and was very flavorful; certainly way better than any pork chop I’ve ever cooked!
Now before I go on to describe my dish – the chicken roulade – I should explain why I picked it. Before I realized that I couldn’t eat potatoes anymore I used to love eating gnocchi, especially when my father-in-law makes them from scratch. Bin 38 serves ricotta gnocchi with this dish so I was excited about the possibility of being able to try it. What else is in this dish? Cipollini onions. Check, I can do that. Artichokes. Check. Mushrooms. Check. Alrighty, I’ll order that dish then!
And I’m so glad I did. A roulade is where the meat is rolled up and then cooked so that it stays nice and moist after cooking. The gnocchi were pillowy light, and the truffle jus was lick-the-plate-clean worthy. I had a glass of the Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti that was suggested on the menu and it went deliciously well with the dish.
Overall our experience at Bin 38 was surprisingly way better than expected. The food was a lot more elegantly presented than we thought it might be for such a casually hip place, and the flavors were just superb all around. We had a really nice conversation with the assistant manager, Brandt, a couple of times throughout our visit; and he was also keen on holding our baby girl for a few minutes.
It goes without saying that we wouldn’t get that type of service or hospitality here in Boston – it’s just a west coast thing really. People are so much nicer and approachable, more willing to strike up a nice conversation and to be genuinely interested in your story. I miss that about living in California sometimes. But that’s what makes it so nice to go back for a visit too.
P.S. About 90% of this blog post was done by typing with one hand and with a baby napping in my lap. 🙂