Bin 36 in North River (photo by Steve Dolinsky)
Dan Sachs and his partners had seen enough. Like a 50-something housewife in Orange County who's seen too much sun, his beloved Bin 36 desperately needed a facelift. Ten years in business had taken its toll, and so, after some soul-searching (and a marathon construction project that closed the restaurant for three days after Valentine's Day) they put in a new floor, ripped out some wooden cases - revealing the giant windows along Dearborn - and gave the place the once-over. The changes weren't just cosmetic. Sachs and his Executive Chef, John Caputo also performed a ritual gutting of the menu, jettisoning the all-too familiar salads, pizzas and hummus, and reinvigorating it with a new mission: to become the de facto cheese destination in Chicago.
The new‚ BIN 36 has debuted a bistro-inspired menu with an expanded cheese list including eight flights of artisanal cheese, plus cheesy snacks and appetizers such as gougeres with truffle honey and brown sugar-cured pork loin chops.
The new menu can also be paired with wine from BIN 36's numbered bin system. Sachs says the purpose of the new menu is to make the number of varieties and special terminologies associated with cheese seem less intimidating.
Starting in early April, BIN 36 will begin hosting hands-on cheese classes led by Chef Caputo. Class topics include:
- Cheese 101 which will cover characteristics of cow, sheep and goat's milk cheeses and how cheese is made.
- Cheese 102 which will focus on individual cheese types.
Some of the new cheese flights include:
- "So You Think You Know Cheddar" -- a selection of four types of cheddar with notes ranging from mango and vanilla to lavender and ground coffee beans.
- "No Need to Sing the Blues" -- a selection of four different blue cheeses
- "Ooh, Ooh That Smell" -- four stinky cheeses from Europe
- "Cows Through the Ages" -- a progression of four cow's‚ milk cheeses from different aging processes
- "Fat Cats" -- four super-creamy, butterfat-laden cheeses
- "A Cow, a Sheep, a Goat and a Buffalo Walk into a Bar..."
Bin 36 co-owner Dan Sachs with his favorite blue (photo by Steve Dolinsky)
I spoke with Dan Sachs this week, to talk more about why he decided to give Bin 36 a facelift, and what it means for his other property in Wicker Park, Bin Wine Cafe. Bin 36 Cheese