Archive for the 'BIN 8945 Wine Bar and Bistro – West Hollywood' Category

Bin 8945

This is one of the last elaborate tasting menus that David and Mike did. It was superb and David’s pairings were sensational. This is a bitter sweet post as Bin is no more, but what David and Mike created was extraordinary and they should be very proud of their accomplishments.


Amuse – Vichyssoise with chive oil and bits of bacon


 Oyster Rockefeller – Prince Edward Oysters with Herb crema, Gruyere, Uni foam and American Caviar – this is a marvelous dish. I just slurp up the oyster so I don’t lose one drop of anything.

Wine: Nagarawaga Sparkling Nigori



 Heirloom Tomato Tart, Gruyere, Lomo, Cucumber, Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Sherry Vinaigrette – very nice, 

 Wine: 2005 Emrich Schonleber Halbtrocken riesling Nahe, Germany



 On the far left, crispy plaintain, in the center shrimp ceviche with pickeled habanero chile and on the far right bacon and coconut foam –  I love this dish and what makes it so perfect is the foam which cuts the heat and adds a wonderful smooth mouth feel.

 Wine: Egly ouriet-“Vignes de Vrigny” NV Pinot Meunier Ambonnay, France


The next dish is very labor intensive. 






Pacific Striped Sea Bass with asparagus, fried egg and summer black truffles from Italy. David cooked the bass tableside on a 500 million year old salt block that had been heated for 45 minutes in a 700 degree oven. The plates with the egg and asparagus were then presented and David plated the bass and then shaved the truffles on top of the egg. David has this nailed. He cooked the fish perfectly – again a great dish.

Wine: 1999 Maion Lucien Le Moine “Valmur” Chablis, France




Crispy Frogs Legs with Vandouvan Butter Sauce and Orange Segments. Vandouvan consists of a blend of curry leaves, fenugreek, mustard seeds, and garlic. This was just delicious. I could have eaten a dozen.

Wine: 2005 Deus “Brut de Flanders” BEER Flanders/Champagne



La Belle Farms Foie Gras, Caramelized Plaintains, House Cured Duck Prosciutto, Red Plum Gastric with a touch of watercress for spice – excellent – the foie was cooked perfectly.

Wine: Calem 20 year old Port, Portugal



Pork Roulade. The pork had been stuffed with a mixture of chopped scallops and shrimp. It was served with herb spatzle and Bing Cherry demi Glace – I had some doubts about this dish as it was described, but boy was I wrong. What a splendid combination. The texture contrast between the pork and the chewiness of the scallop was perfect. 

Wine: 1985 “Les Cazeetiers”, Pierre Bouree Gevery Chambertin, France



Wild Boar Sausage with Boar Jus, Caramelized Onions and Crispy garlic Chips – this was off the charts A+

Wine: 2002 Marques del Puerto, Gran Riserva, Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Graciano; Rioja, Spain



Filet with English peas, Applewood smoked bacon and a duck fat onion ring – good, but not as exciting as the previous dishes.

Wine: 2004 “Agno Tinto”, Vignalta Petite Syrah; Veneto, Italy



Cheese – Pont le Vec, Lavender, Epoisse 

Wine: 2000 “st. Hippolyte” Marcel Deiss Gewurztraminer Bergheim, France



Deep-Fried Churros with Chocolate sauce



Crème Fraiche Panna Cotta ~ Market Berries

Wine: 1993 Chateau Pajzos “5 Puttonyos” Furmint Hungary


Bin 8945

Bin was lucky to have a number of guest chefs on the last Sunday of each month – Ludo from Bastide, Neal Fraser from Grace, Sang from My Father’s Office, Didier and Pilar from Pilar, Sal from Il Grano and Michel Richard from Citronelle. I decided to do the last guest chef.

I had a difficult time trying to write up this meal. As a diner, I didn’t and don’t have a clue. I tasted every dish, but what happened between plating the dish, how it was served and how it was received is an unknown.

I am going to sound and rightfully so, to actual working chefs, very naive and basically clueless. I think I am a good cook, but I am a home cook. I invite people for dinner, they show up on time and I adjust my menu to the number of people. But, I have never worked the line. I have never had reservations from 6:00 to 8:45. I have never had to worry that your 6:00 reservation is on dessert, your 8:00 is on meat and you are waiting for your 8:45.

The front of the house was extraordinary – every single server, even with those who had a night off, came. We were closing for 3 days, after my guest chef on Sunday so to work on Sunday was absolutely above and beyond the call of duty.

We are a small restaurant. In the back, is Mike our chef, Eric our sous, me (the clueless one) and a dishwasher. I had made the decision when I decided to do this that I would not be the ditzy housewife and say to Mike these are some of my favorite restaurant dishes, so you make them, I will watch for a while and then I will “work” the room. I stayed in the kitchen from 8 am until closing. But, I never imagined how it really works. Granted this is from a one-time experience and so for the real chefs who are reading this, I apologize for my ignorance

8 am – pack up everything- get it to the restaurant – I had done as much prep as possible ahead of time. Gougeres, Keller’s cones, Soup, soup accompaniments, cleaned, empty eggshells, potato gratin (made, but not cooked) and Persimmon pudding were all done ahead of time.

Without going through a step by step, hour by hour rundown of the day, we worked from 8:30 until 4 doing the meat, fish and sauces prep. (Edit to add: unlike at home where I go to my favorite Japanese fish monger and buy sashimi grade ready to use tuna and salmon, Mike did all the fish prep and the meat prep from scratch.) The hardest recipe to reproduce, during service was the Arpege/Manresa egg. I had perfected it at home using a thermometer and a heat diffuser. Everyone except my pool man (he doesn’t come into the house) ate eggs for a week and I was very pleased with the results. Unfortunately, our restaurant stove, on its lowest setting, only gives you a lighted flame in one corner. As soon as you turn it up to lowest flame surrounding the entire burner, the temp goes too high. Ahead of the story – I got to the point when I “knew” when the egg was done by sight.

4 pm to 5 pm – servers arrive – go over ingredients and have them taste some dishes. Wine pairings determined.

4 pm to 6 pm. – FOH sets up the restaurant and BOH organizes serving dishes, finishes all prep, organizes stations and has everything set to go for first customers.

John wasn’t very good at taking pictures and as I spent the entire time in the kitchen, I don’t have a lot of photos.




French Laundry Salmon Cornet ( I had the lucite holder specially made)

Tuna Tartar with Won Ton Crisp

Arpege/Manresa Egg (no photos of the finished product, but one pics of a cleaned egg shell)

Cleaned egg shell

Thanks to David Kinch, I got it right.


Pumpkin/Apple Soup with Cinnamon Croutons and Diced Ham Hocks

I have no pictures for the next courses.

Michael Bryant’s Sweetbreads with A-1 Sauce

Michel Richard’s Rack of Lamb

Potato Gratin


Persimmon Pudding with Hard Sauce –


Chocolate Mousse Cake (made especially for someone celebrating their 55th birthday)

What I learned.

1. A restaurant is not a home kitchen

2. You start to learn to anticipate. When you hear fire first course, you get ready to set up for second course.

3. You are told to fire 4 eggs and someone decides to go the bathroom just when the eggs are ready to be served. You lose those 4 eggs.

4. A prix fixe menu is subject to change – one table doesn’t want lamb, can we do duck instead?

5. Your last customer deserves the same attention and dedication as your first customer

6. No matter how backed up you are, you stay focused and execute to the best of your ability

I can only say, I hope people were happy and that for every single chef, cook, server, back waiter, dishwasher, my heart and respect goes out to you.

Bin 8945 Featured In Wine Spectator

From the issue of Wine Spectator magazine, June 2007:

Two new restaurants can be found off the trodden path
By Harvey Steiman  

Opus and Bin 8945 are both fresh Los Angeles restaurants that are delivering serious food and wine without taking themselves too seriously. But no one would mistake one for the other. At Opus, in the Mid-Wilshire district just west of downtown, 20-foot-high ceilings frame a spacious dining room that hides behind a big, busy bar scene and a quiet, comfortable smoking lounge. Meanwhile, over in West Hollywood, the cozy confines of Bin 8945 bring to mind a neighborhood wine bar in Milan or Paris—stylish enough to stand out from the crowd but clearly not aiming for luxury.

Opus chef Josef Centeno (formerly of Meson G in Hollywood and Aubergine in Newport Beach, Calif.) likes adding surprise ingredients to wake up familiar dishes. On my visit, he sprinkled a tiny dice of crisp salt pork on an excellent yellowtail sashimi and threw in shredded, preserved lemon for additional zip. He added fresh jalapeño to a deeply satisfying pork ragù with strozzapreti, a pennelike pasta with extra flange; the peppers provided extra zing. First courses hover around $10, pastas $13 and main courses $20.

For any adventurous chef, the trick is to pique a diner’s taste buds without making the dish weird. Centeno clearly seeks harmony in incorporating creativity, as in his version of carbonara, where the egg goes on top, sunny-side up. Breaking the yolk bathed the pasta in yellow and made the creamy dish even richer. And you can taste the freshness and solid technique of a good modern kitchen in dishes such as juicy grilled jidori chicken with Meyer lemon marmalade, and beef short ribs cooked in red wine, served over a polentalike, adult rendition of Cream of Wheat.

At 175 listings, Opus’ wine list emphasizes value. Markups are relatively low, and most of the wines are priced at less than $75. You won’t find many trophy bottlings, although Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley from the excellent 1987 vintage ($90) sneaked onto the list. Other good choices are M. Chapoutier Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Bernardine 2003 ($59) and Joseph Phelps Chardonnay Napa Valley Ovation 2002 ($60), both of which have had the benefit of a couple of years in bottle.

Best of all, Centeno’s food is balanced enough to showcase all the good wine. It’s clearly the class act in a resurgent neighborhood. On the same block as the Wiltern theater, where the Dandy Warhols were playing the night I visited, Opus has become a mecca for smart, young Angelenos who enjoy good food and wine and a nice ambience but don’t want to spend a fortune on it.

Bin 8945, which opened last summer in West Hollywood, most succeeds with its wine; it has more than 700 selections in its book. Executive chef Michael Bryant, a protégé of Norman Van Aken, joined the team only recently. Although he sometimes overreaches, he always aims for bold flavors. His edgy food and the deep wine list put many stuffier places in the city to shame.

Sandwiched between a Starbucks and a row of fancier bistros that advertise happy hour more prominently than they do dining, Bin 8945 appears to be the least prepossessing eatery on this busy block of Santa Monica Boulevard. The dining room seats 40 tightly, with some tables spilling out onto the sidewalk. When the place is full, it’s loud. It’s also casual: A folded linen napkin was placed on a paper place mat imprinted with a trompe l’oeil depiction of a presentation plate. A real plate would just have to be removed anyway.

The menu offers nine first courses, priced between $11 and $19, and seven main dishes, in the $26 to $29 range. Much of the food seems intentionally geared toward red wines. Poached lobster swam in venison consommé. Chorizo added a meaty note to steamed mussels. Fries were done in duck fat, and Bryant’s shredded duck ham (rather like confit) with pasta would render almost any red a little sultrier.

But the menu gives white wines their due. Snapper escabèche filled a row of five crisp miniature tacos topped with guacamole ($11) and found a happy match with a glass of Zöhrer Grüner Veltliner 2003 ($12), still floral, crisp and fresh from its screw-cap bottle.

Bryant puts chorizo foam on a sliced American Wagyu culotte steak—a great idea. Not so great: a dish of frankly sweet chocolate sauce and crumbled graham crackers on sautéed sweetbreads. Too weird, that.

The wine list has attitude (and a few typos). It offers only four California Chardonnays, though one of them is Ridge 1997 ($60). Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand get only brief nods. But the ups outnumber the downs. There are two red Burgundies among the more than 50 wines by the glass. For dessert, why not sip a glass of Ramos Ruby Port ($8)?

The Bordeaux page has plenty of mature options, topped by Lafite Rothschild 1979 ($440), Mouton-Rothschild 1979 ($400), Wine Spectator 1988 Wine of the Year Lynch-Bages 1985 ($285), and Trotanoy 1990 ($240). Among the Burgundies, big spenders can go for Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes Mares 1985 ($720), Domaine Arlaud Charmes-Chambertin 1995 ($190), or take a chance on Henri Jayer Bourgogne 1982 ($155). In addition, there are about 20 vintages of California icon Ridge Montebello, dating back to the 1980 vintage.

Managing director David Haskell, who has worked at Guy Savoy in Paris, Le Cirque and Aquavit in New York, and Aubergine in Newport Beach, Calif., knows his way around the wine world. His father, a serious collector, supplied some of the older wines. Haskell and assistant sommelier Josh Goldman like to create five- to 10-course dinners matching small plates with wines from the by-the-glass list. Guests can choose a bottle of wine and have Bryant cook for it, or order from the menu and let Haskell or Goldman match different wines with each dish. Bringing your own wine is also welcomed—corkage is only $15, and the fee is waived if you also buy a bottle off the list.

Clearly, both Bin 8945 and Opus are aimed at young adults. And as different as they might appear, they share a singular mission: to deliver a knowledgeable dining experience for anyone who takes food and wine seriously.

Bin 8945

8945 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
Telephone (310) 550-8945
Web site

Open Dinner, Tuesday to Sunday
Cost Entrées $26-$29; tasting menus $75-$100
Corkage $15
Credit cards All major.