MrLit and I ended up at Bin 26 last night for a dinner with friends we don't see very often, and though the location wasn't picked by us, I've had some quite pleasant lunches there in the past, so I was hopeful we'd have a good evening.
First, let me say that the people there are very friendly. I've felt that way on previous visits, and they didn't disappoint last night. And I still quite like the space and the large picture windows. And our pals who had large pieces of meat for dinner seemed quite happy. MrLit and I, not so much.
I started with an "endive, raddicchio, rugula" [sic] salad. Sigh. It came in a large bowl and was overdressed with some concotion that managed to be both boring and too acidic at the same time. The salad itself was, in its majority, arugula that had gone to seed (flowers still attached). There were no lovely large pieces of endive, as I'd hoped there'd be -- I was looking forward to the clean, slightly bitter, coolness of an endive salad on a hot night. In fact, I'm not really sure there was endive in there at all. There was some raddicchio, and then a lot of sliced rooty stemmy pieces of something that was bitter and had bugun to brown -- they were like dingy little disks, and not very tasty. Overall, the salad was a real miss. I was looking for something light and clean and palate stimulating, but it was droopy and over-bitter.
On to the mains. I had "linguini and clams with tomato and jalapeno." Again, I thought this might be something light but flavorful. Harumph. What I got was a bed of linguini (which I must concede had a nice toothsome texture and good inherent flavor), about 15 mostly-empty very tiny clamshells, three (!) cherry tomatoes, and a weakly flavored white wine/butter sauce. Jalapeno? There were very very small green flecks throughout the dish, but if they added any flavor whatsoever, I missed it. In a word, the whole thing was vapid. I was really disappointed to waste calories on it. I think I counted about 5 or 6 dime-sized clams, in total, in the dish as a whole.
And I'm sorry to nit-pick, but when an item is listed on the menu, shouldn't the things listed close to first be the most prominent items in the dish? Am I crazy? The endive salad was really an arugula salad. The "linguini and clams" was really just linguini graced with decorative clam shells. (Though, given the wretchedly small number of tomatoes and non-existent jalapeno, perhaps the rule holds after all....)
MrLit fared no better. He had some pasta dish with wild boar bacon and who knows what else. He says it was like eating chef boyardee. I tried a bit, and I have to agree. The tomato sauce was overly sugared/vinegared, and if there was wild boar bacon in there, well, I'd be really surprised. Maybe it went to hang out with my jalapenos. It was a pretty flaccid dish.
The wines were great. Our pals had the steak, the lamb loin (which oddly seemed to be nothing *but* a plate of meat), and the gnocchi, and they were very pleased with their choices. Maybe we picked poorly. Maybe one should just avoid the pastas, I don't know. All I know is I've had a couple nice lunches there, and though it's not a board favorite, I was really expecting better. Especially for the price. MrLit and I agreed that this was probably one of the most disappointing meals we've had in recent memory.