It was a quiet night and I was desperately in need of a chilled glass of wine. Enter Bin 1301, a cozy wine bar tucked away in the space U Scream Ice Cream occupied just months ago. Walking down lively U Street, the quiet bar can be hard to spot, but it’s there with a solid selection of California wines and yummy nomz to accompany them.
I kicked off my adventure with a glass of 2012 Willm Riesling. Acidic and light on the palate, it is an awesome way to start a meal.
To pair with this bright wine, I munched on pear bruschetta composed of organic Bartlett pears, buratta infused with black truffle, honey shallot vinegrette and sun-dried tomatoes. Great combination of smoky, creamy, sweet and tang.
A trio of soft-boiled deviled eggs filled with caperberry juice, whole grain mustard, mayo, a dash of paprika, topped with a brown maple sugar candied bacon and a swizzle of green onions — it was absolutely delish – though in a perfect world, I would’ve liked some jalapeño or Cajun spices, but that is just the spice lover in me.
I indulged in a 2013 Steinfeld Gruner Veltliner – and I’m so glad this was the next step, as it paired perfectly with the smoked salmon tartare – one of those elusive pairings that begs to be written down and repeated over and over again.
The tartare was unique in that it was brightened with white grapefruit juice — the citrus notes accentuating the “halfway guac’d” avocado and topped with toasted black sesame seeds for Asian flair. Kudos on the citrus – so many times, it’s easy to rely on lemon or lime to add that acidic dimension. If you’re a smoked salmon lover, this is an absolute must, along with the paired white.
If you’re a bacon lover, jump on the pork belly nuggets for sure. They’re rubbed with salt, black pepper, paprika, cumin, onion and garlic powder, confited in lard for 4 hours then cut into lardons and fried. On the side is a kicked-up steak sauce – amaze-ing – officially known as Red Wine Honey Mustard Jalapeno Verjus (say that 5 times fast! ..or just skip saying it and nibble on these as your new favorite comfort food). I definitely dove in before I even thought to take a picture — there were at least 3 more in this batch!
An all-time favorite of mine – chicken and biscuits…mmmmm. Chef Johnny Sergi, previously of BLT Steak, is a native of Lousiana and definitely knows his Cajun roots. My only complaint was that I wanted much much more of that delicious chicken. Super moist with a kick, it was a nice compliment to the thick, delicious biscuits which held up to honey, jalapeno aioli and sunny side-up egg.
For the grand finale, I ended with a Bin favorite – the Dry Creek Fume Blanc, a light white with slight acidity.
Chef Johnny, a bacon lover, included bacon-wrapped dates with goat cheese – exactly what you’d expect – sweet, soft, crispy, creamy and tangy. Definitely nice if you’re looking for something meaty yet light.
The Gambas de Ajillo, a Spanish favorite, presented a fall angle with Evan Williams Apple Cider and orange juice in addition to garlic, capers and shallots. Though the flavors meshed well (and I appreciate the personality), as something to munch on with wine, I’d prefer the classic.
To end this amazing culinary journey, I tried the charcuterie and cheese board along with a complex California White Wine by Conundrum. The board had spicy copa, chorizo, pork prosciutto, spicy cheddar and pepito. All are Johnny’s choices and true reflections of his personality. He brings it in this kitchen. You can tell he loves what he does and is proud of each and every one of the selections.
Bin 1301 is a true hidden gem in a neighborhood that has been explored to death. It’s a little slice of familiarity for those who live nearby and could be kept secret from the masses. It reminds me of Vin Sur Vingt in NYC – the highest compliment as I spent many nights there, having gossip sessions with girlfriends, celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau, grabbing drinks before dinner parties. I hope to be back to sample their new brunch menu — I have no doubt he’ll continue to bring a Lousiana spin to our favorite tapas and dessert selections.
Shaina is a double doodle-mom, travel-junkie, and one half of a couple that is the greatest food trend you’ve never heard of–Indian-Italian fusion (think butter chicken pizza!). During the week, she spends her early mornings hitting the pavement (or treadmill) and evenings perfecting the art of meal prepping. Shaina has been with GMF since 2013 and spends her weekends outdoors with the pups, checking out the latest and greatest restaurants in the DMV, or cuddled up on the couch with a glass of wine and the latest bingeworthy show.