Bin 77- A Baton Rouge Restaurant Week Visit
by Courtney C Horne @FireezDragon
Baton Rouge has an event called Restaurant Week. During it, a lot of places in town offer fixed three course menus. It is a pretty cool event. Unfortunately, this year I knew I would only have a chance to make it to two restaurants. So choosing became very important. I scoured the menus on the website until I settled on Bin 77 as one of the places I would be going to.
Bin 77 is a small wine bar tucked into Perkins Rowe. It would be described as intimate by some people and by cramped as others. It was a bit too tight for comfort- hard to even pull a chair out from a table. The food made up for the difficult seating easily though.
Me and my dining companion each picked different items for the largest variety of courses possible.
For our first course, we went with the creole devils on horseback and the smoked duck confit beignets. The second course was roasted beef tenderloin and stuffed Mississippi quail. Lastly, we went with brulee cheesecake and chocolate mousse cake.
The beignets are described as “Smoked Duck Confit Beignets served with Wilted swiss chard, tomato-raisin chutney & cayenne powdered sugar.” I would summarize them as highly elevated hushpuppies. They were lighter and fluffier than a hushpuppy but in the end I think I would describe them as an awesome hushpuppy before I would think the word beignet. The sweet and tart chard was amazing. It was tangy and fruity and possibly as good as the hushpuppies themselves. I think there may have been an additional fruit component in the chard that I couldn’t put my finger on. It was a great dish and I will probably be going back to eat it again.
The devils on horseback were described as “Creole Devils on Horse Back Boudin & andouille stuffed medjool dates wrapped in creole smoked bacon with pequillo-tomato sauce.” The bacon that wrapped the dates was of an excellent quality. The creamy succulent sausage stuffing was very rich and flavorful. It was complimented by the smokey-slightly sweet sauce. The dish was quite good, but wasn’t as exciting as the beignets.
The stuffed quail – “Stuffed Mississsippi Quail served with Foie Gras & oyster ragu, three potato pave & red-eye gravy”- was perfectly moist with crispy skin. The stuffing resembled the stuffing from the devils on horseback with more herb flavor- probably sage. The potatoes were very much an au gratin style preparation. The fried oyster or foie fras (I am not exactly sure which) was just overpoweringly the flavor of the fried batter. It did not really add anything to the dish. There was also a boiled quail egg on the dish which didn’t seem to add much. I would personally replace the boiled egg and the fried stuff with either a fried or poached quail egg sat on top of the potato dish- I feel like the runny yolk could have added a lot.
The beef tenderloin which is written up on the menu as “Roasted Beef Tenderloin served with braised short rib ragu, blackened asparagus & duck fat bernaise.” I suspect that the tenderloin must have been cooked slightly using sous vide prior to being seared to the perfect rare done-ness. It was so buttery that it could easily be cut by my butter knife. Sometimes I find rare meats to have a bit of chewy-ness to them but there was no trace of that. It’s super rich texture was complimented very well by a creamy horseradish sauce- the bite of which helped to balance out the richness from the beef. The asparagus was charred and super thin- it was tasty but there wasn’t much of it there to taste, more of a garnish and perhaps not worthy of inclusion in the description. The ragu was possibly the best thing I ate at Bin 77. The beef short rib and potatoes melted together into a perfect delicious hardy one-ness. It was something I would love to eat at home alongside a fried egg and maybe some thick cut bacon.
The chocolate moose cake – “Chocolate Mousse Cake served with chocolate paint and strawberry glaze” was extremely sweet and had a very dense concentration of chocolate flavor. The strawberry glaze was basically non existent flavor wise. It was a very good chocolate and the vanilla bean cream had a great flavor but the whole thing felt one note. It left my tongue coated in an over powering chocolate flavor and it was too sweet to enjoy. I wish there had been a super tart sauce or a slightly bitter caramel sauce with some salt. Or some other texture added to it. The texture was almost all smooth with out anything to break either it up or the super sweet chocolate-ness.
The Brulee Cheesecake was “served with raspberry couli and cotton candy whipped cream.” The cheesecake had a phenomenal texture and just the right amount of sweetness to it. The cotton candy whipped cream really did capture the essence of cotton candy and the raspberry couli offered some tartness to it. The bruleed top of the cheesecake helped to balance the dish with some burnt sugar bitterness. It offered the best part of creme brulee added to a cheesecake. If I could have been in the kitchen, I would have added a big thing of cotton candy on top as a delightful garnish to reference the cotton candy whipped cream. Instead both the dishes had the stereotypical mint leaf dessert garnish that no one eats. It doesn’t hurt anything but it is kinda pointless to have it on the dish in my opinion.
The best part? Thanks to it being restaurant week our meal was only $25 a person. An optional $15 wine pairing (with a wine for each course) was offered but we decided to skip it.