Bruce Binn, seemingly jovial as he walks towards me. “Hey Rebecca, I’m Bruce. My partner Neil will not be joining us, he’s over at Spork.” His pleasant and upbeat aura took me by surprise as most chefs exude a certain ‘on edge’ attitude that’ll make you want to back into your corner walking on eggshells. Not the case with Bruce Binn.
We’re sitting at the bar and I asked the bartender to surprise me with a cocktail as I like my drink ‘in harmony’ (it was the only thing that came to mind). He somehow knew exactly what I meant and without any questions he presented me with Blood and Sand. Blood and Sand consists of Scotch, Sweet Vermouth, cherry liqueur, and fresh orange. Similar to the Old Fashioned drink but slightly sweeter; the bold, straight forward spirit held in check with a calming note of sweetness and a twist of bitter and after tones of citrus on the palate. Perfect.
Me: If you’re stranded on a desert island, what 5 foods would you want with you? and what would you make?
Bruce: Bagel and lox… is Tequila food? I like me some good rum. Reuben sandwich, burgers and pastrami.
Me: Interesting… ok. If you were being executed tomorrow, what would be your last meal?
Bruce: What’s my crime? My crime will dictate what I eat! I’d have to overindulge, a pound of Uni, something Japanese, lots of fresh, raw fish. That’s pretty satisfying.
Me: What’s your favorite Japanese restaurant?
Bruce: Ariyake on Geary. I still want to know what my crime is.
Me: I’ll have to get back to you on that after my meal. Last question: When designing a dish, what factors/components do you take into account?
Bruce: Its origin. If there is inspiration from a particular region – whether its American with Italian influence or French influence- gotta understand its foundation and decide the direction to go with. Either keep it true to its origin, or update it and figure out what I can do to give it my own stamp. It’s also a seasonal issue, but mostly knowing its origin, and understanding why it is what it is, understand why these elements work and execute it that way.
Twenty minutes and two Blood and Sands later, Bruce went back to the kitchen and my girlfriends arrived. We were promptly seated and our lovely waitress walked us through the menu and specials of the day. Here’s what we ordered:
Chips and Caviar - house chip, smoked fish, trout roe, creme fraiche
Verdict: It was a lovely meal. Great staff and service. I’d come back specifically for their pork chop, that was delicious and would love to try more on the menu.
Service: Excellent. Extremely warm and welcoming.
Ambiance: Retro, had a vintage feel with a modern twist. Great space.
Food: 4 out of 5 stars. My favorite dish was the Pork Chop, it was wonderfully thick, juicy and tender. Flavors were well-balanced. Least favorite dish was the halibut, the fish was overcooked. The scallops and lobster risotto was good but not spectacular.