Le bon temps a bin vivant

In other words, ‘a good time at bin vivant’. Went with some friends for the Dine Around Seattle event and a good time at bin vivant is what we had! Yes, they like to lowercase their name, but they do have a cool logo. Though our first impression through a parking lot and hotel, always tough with a restaurant; but our overall impression of bin vivant was a good one.

bin vivant is located in the Woodmark Hotel along Kirkland’s Carillon Point. Yup, it’s in a hotel. The talent that comprises the backbone of bin vivant makes it a place to keep an eye on. On one hand, you have the wine director, Dawn Smith, who comes from Canlis. On the other is Lisa Nakamura, formerly of Qube and The French Laundry. Their collective pedigree creates heightened expectation, but their restaurant has the potential to be one of the better dining destinations in Kirkland.

We went to bin vivant for the Dine Around Seattle promotion for a few reasons, because bin had some good recent buzz, the aforementioned pedigree, but also for the menu and wines available. What drew me at first is the wine menu of bin vivant. It’s super robust as wine is their thing. You’ll notice their wall of wines as soon as you’re seated. And it’s all by the glass! At least 80 wines by the glass. 80! How do they do this? They use the Enomatic system of pouring wines. Basically it’s a pouring system that preserves the integrity and freshness of wines. It uses some tricky science, but it’s a fun way to try a large assortment of wines.

The menu for the prix fixe promotion had some good stuff. Duck, lamb, mussels, black cod, bibb lettuce, and gnocchi were among the things that sounded good. Ultimately we went with the duck, black cod, mussels and bibb lettuce between the two of us. And the full line menu looked really good too! What’s also cool is that because bin is so wine-centric, they list each dish within its own pairing category. For instance, the Duck Leg Confit would go within wines from the Drop Red Gorgeous group. Clever.

The bibb lettuce salad and mussels came first. The mussels were plump and huge. Steamed with chablis, this was a nice starter. I can’t stress enough how big these mussels were. I got the bibb lettuce salad with bacon. I love bibb lettuce. Their size and shape are great for dressing and presentation and the rosemary smoke bacon was a nice touch. Off to to a good start.

The duck and black cod were next up, and continued the positive streak of the starters. The duck was perfectly cooked and kept it’s rich sweet flavor. I love duck and would order this again. The sides that it came with were smoked cauliflower and potatoes, perfect to go along with the duck. Black cod has been talked about on these pages often; it’s richness and texture makes it a fun dish for diners and a plate that chefs can really experiment with. bin’s black cod was nice, and I loved that it came with rice. I’ve always wondered why more restaurants don’t include rice with main dishes. Glad they added it here.

So we crossed the water for dinner at bin vivant and had a great time. The restaurant is really well executed from design to service. The location in Kirkland is picturesque as well. On the eastern shores of Lake Washington, the water views will make the outdoor patio a prized seat – in warmer months of course. The dining room has a great energy too, the music made for a fun background along with the din of the crowd.

I’ll chalk up the vibe of the place to the staff though. We reserved our spot through Open Table and included a note that one of us has a nut allergy. No other restaurant has ever mentioned the nut allergy or directly addressed it. I really liked that the team at bin, mentioned the note and thanked us for joining them for Dine Around Seattle. Because of this, I am a fan of bin vivant. This little touch has a ton of mileage in my book. Our server was great too, he really loved wine (especially those of the Old World), and his enthusiasm passed on to us – as we ended up trying a bunch of good stuff.

All in all, had a great time at bin vivant. For wine lovers, it’s definitely a place to visit. Same for food lovers. Both groups would have something to enjoy at bin vivant. Bon appetit!

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