Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dine Around 2012 - Bin 4 Burger Lounge

this is part of a series of guest posts covering Dine Around 2012

February 28, 2012
About the Guest Author:
Originally from Auckland, New Zealand Kelly ended up in BC for the weekend three years ago en route to Europe and hasn't left since. Now happily married and mother to a Boston Terrier named Ralph she spends her time cooking, eating and dining her away around Victoria. A fan of all things food and travel Kelly can be found tasting new dishes and planning adventures on twitter or on her blog A Rumbly Tummy

Tuesday night was possibly the coldest, windiest night this city had seen in a long time. There was no way I wanted to be out and about, but a friend was visiting from out of town and dinner was called for. Thankfully he chose Bin 4 Burgers which is almost the closest of the Dine Around participating restaurants to our apartment.  Both Wil and I had already visited Bin 4, in fact I'd already been for Dine Around with the girls that weekend but Jonny, a Victoria native currently at school in Toronto, hadn't tried this newcomer to the Victoria burger scene yet and so that was where we found ourselves, huddling inside as we waited for the fourth of our group to arrive.

One thing I love about Bin 4 is the fact that I can reserve a table via twitter which is fast and super convenient.  Sure, on some nights they may not be able to accommodate any more reservations but this allows for walk ups to have a shot at a table in such a popular spot. Both times I'd dined here before  I'd been seated at tables near each of the doors meaning cold breezes blew in on the backs of other diners. On this occasion we had a cozy booth near the bar which was comfortable, warm and had a view of the TV which was pretty crucial as the Canucks went to a shootout. 

Since I'd already tried the salad over the weekend I chose the bruschetta and Wil decided on the pork & chorizo lettuce wraps. The bruschetta itself was super crunchy, the tomatoes fresh and the goat's cheese creamy and delicious.  Wil enjoyed the lettuce wraps with their Mexican-inspired filling, but said it wasn't a standout and probably wouldn't order this from the regular menu. I must have missed the description on the menu as I was expecting Asian flavours and was completely thrown for a loop when I snuck a few bites whilst Wil wasn't looking.  Jonny also chose the bruschetta and fair inhaled it; Jen seemed to enjoy the almond praline and blue cheese salad and I'd say this would be my pick of the appetizers, having now tried all three. 

As the burgers arrived I was shocked that Wil chose chicken over beef, but he is a chipotle and sweetcorn fan so this combination worked for him. His only qualm was the BBQ sauce he ordered with his fries which he was unimpressed with; my chipotle aioli disappeared rather quickly from that point on.  Having enjoyed both the chicken and the wild mushroom burger on previous occasions I chose the Mr Bean, a curry-spiced chickpea patty with buckets of fresh cilantro and goat's cheese. On Saturday Sarah had noted that she found this burger a little dry, but mine was just right. I would have preferred if the chickpeas in the patty were a little smaller as pieces of my burger kept crumbling off and escaping me. I really enjoyed the mild spice of the cumin and curry aioli and would most certainly recommend this to vegetarian and meat-eating friends alike. 

The game having finished (we won't talk about that) we moved onto dessert. Right off the bat Wil had instructed that I not choose the brulee - he had his eye on this and wouldn't be backing down. I obliged and chose the flourless chocolate torte which was even more chocolately and decadent than the bite I pinched from Sarah's plate on Saturday. Wil and I both enjoyed the brulee but felt it could have had a thicker caramel layer. This would have also taken the chill off the custard  which I think would have enhanced the flavour. Jen chose the lemon tart and echoed my sentiment from Saturday that the consistency was a little loose. This wasn't all bad though as the lemony puddles mixed with the raspberry coulis was pretty delicious. I was certainly glad I had chosen the torte this time though and was more than happily full at the end of the meal.

As well as the damn fine burgers at Bin 4 they also have beers on tap from the Craig Street Brewery in Duncan. We may think we're awesome with such an abundance of fantastic local breweries in Victoria but I think the rest of the island is following suit and Craig St reetcertainly stacks up against the big city brewers.  Wil tried their Orange Blossom Honey Ale which he thoroughly enjoyed, I found it nicely floral but very light after all the stouts and porters we've been tasting lately. Another really neat extra at Bin 4 is the ability to choose the dip with your fries and I'm slowly making my way through each one - I think the chipotle is my favourite so far but the truffle packs a punch that is hard to beat.

Bin 4 is one of those places that seems to have it got it just right: the atmosphere is like a friendly neighbourhood local but it's that little bit extra that makes it perfect for special occasions too. Service is always welcoming, the food is fresh, local and fantastic and the prices are very affordable. It's a great spot any day but during Dine Around there's extra value to be had, just be warned that it's so good you'll likely not be able to leave anything on your plate. I'd highly recommend Bin 4 to anyone, stretchy pants optional.