A Public Quest for Interesting Food Finds in Huntington

Join me on a journey for the best food finds in Huntington. Whether in restaurants, a deli-packed picnic
or a neighbor's back yard barbeque - we'll discover the best spots, secret recipes and where to find
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bin 56 - The Sequel

Bin 56 delivered as promised. The wine / dinner flight on May 10th was a gastronomical success. The anticipation built as we watched some of the local restaurateurs and chefs take a seat for the evening – there were a lot of serious palettes in the room.

Banfi wines were the real guest of honor. Lars Leicht from Banfi was present to talk us through each wine for each course. He kept it brief, educational as well as entertaining.

The first course opened with what was listed on the menu as Boat Scallop Crudo. Though as it was served about the room, it was casually referred to as ceviche. Naturally I had to ask… “what’s the difference between a crudo and a ceviche?” So I looked it up. It seems the difference is whether the fish is merely dressed or has been marinated. My guess is the dish was a true crudo.

Crudo: In Italian cuisine, crudo is a raw fish dish dressed with olive oil, sea salt, and citrus juice such as lemon juice and sometimes vinegar.

Ceviche: (also spelled as cebiche or seviche) is a citrus-marinated seafood, its birthplace is disputed between Peru and Ecuador. Although it is a typical dish of both countries, many other countries in Latin America have adopted it, with variations. Both fish and shellfish can be used in the preparation of ceviche.
The wine that was paired with the Boat Scallop Crudo is worth mentioning. Principessa Perlante is a light white wine with a subtle fizz, refreshing with a bouquet of citrus and apple. Lars Leicht said it best. By itself it is light and refreshing… much like when you sit down at a communal table, surrounded by strangers. At first you listen, observe and perhaps think the conversation is a little light. As you drink a little more and become engaged in conversation you recognize the complexities. Such is the same for the Perlante – once you begin eating a correctly paired meal, you discover the complexities of the wine. It takes on a depth. Had Lars been selling this wine from the car I would have bought a case on the spot.

The evening progressed with a continuous flow of wines, not just with the meal but generously between. And conversations certainly became more complex. At one point chef James Tchinnis came out to take his bow and answer any questions. One question from the floor – “where does the flat iron steak come from?” I suspect that Chef Tchinnis is more comfortable in the kitchen than facing a crowd; he gave a rather shy response then disappeared.

So I looked it up.

Flat Iron Steak: Developed by the research teams of University of Nebraska and the University of Florida, the flat iron steak is gaining in popularity with restaurants across the United States. You can thank the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association for funding research to make this tasty, tender economical steak available to us today.

The beef cut is actually a top blade steak derived from the tender top blade roast. The roast is separated into two pieces by cutting horizontally through the center to remove the heavy connective tissue. The shape of the cut resembles the old flat irons, hence the name.

Cheers to Bin 56 for celebrating Banfi wines. A lovely evening.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Face of Bin 56

Bin 56 is an unusual restaurant model for Huntington. There’s a communal table that seats about 12, a few jaunty spots around the room with plush seating and coffee tables, and an ample bar. They even put the upholstered chairs outside when weather permits. The music is funky, the food delicious and the wine and cocktail listing a splendid, elegant collection. This is what you get when you go to Bin 56… what you feel is something else... Welcome.

John “Juan” Estevez is the face of Bin 56. He is gracious, attentive and makes everyone feel as though they are being welcomed into his home. He remembers what you drink, remembers the friends you came with last time and greets you with a warm embrace. Eating out as often as I do, there’s no other restaurant in my travels that has made me want to go back, in part, for the maitre d. The restaurant feels like home.

It turns out John’s roots are in Huntington. Remember the Iberian, where Besito is now? In 1977, when the Iberian opened, John was 15 years old. He worked along side his first-generation Spaniard parents for 17 years. My family frequented the Iberian when I was a kid; it offered the best paella in all the land – thinking back, there’s a good chance John and I met as kids. His mother then was the face of the Iberian; with her flaming red hair she was iconic.

But I digress… this isn’t a story about the Iberian.

John gives his mother the credit for his hospitality. He says he learned a lot about the restaurant business from her. After the family restaurant closed, he worked around New York City, including eleven years at the Manhattan Ocean Club, but says it’s good to be back in Huntington. He has been with Bin 56 for 14 months, since it opened. His family background explains why he occasionally slips into Spanish and why he is known by his frequent guests as Juan.

Bin 56 changed hands recently and is now owned by the Carey family. The menu has changed only slightly, now with chef James Tchinnis in the kitchen (previously of Bistro 44 in Northport). It still serves the appreciated tapas-style plates – with favorites including crispy calamari with a sweet and spicy glaze, lamb chops and skewered shrimp and chorizo. Among the cold plate favorites are lemonade shrimp cocktail, tuna tartare, asparagus wrapped in Serrano ham and the ever popular cheese plate. My personal favorite is the slow braised short ribs – it melts in your mouth. And there’s often a fresh pasta special that captures my attention.

Weekly & Monthly Specials –

  • For the wine lover – weekly wine specials are presented, off the regular cellar offering, just to keep things interesting.

  • Happy Hour from 5-7– branded “5@5” – means there is a selection of plates and wines offered for $5 during these hours.

  • Tuesdays are now known as Tarot Card Tuesdays – with someone on hand to read your future.

  • And here’s the kicker… one Monday a month, Bin 56 offers up a special Wine & Dinner flight starting at 6:30 p.m. The menu is centered on either a wine region or particular grape.

MAY WINE & DINNER NIGHT - Monday, May 10th - Bin 56 will pay homage to the Piedmont region of Northwestern Italy. Cost is $60 per person. Menu will include:

Boat Scallop Crudo paired with Castello Banfi Principessa Perlante
Cherry BBG Glazed Pork Loin paired with L’Ardi Dolcetto d’Acqui
Black Angus Flatiron Steak paired with Castello Banfi Regolo, and finally
Chocolate Covered Chocolate Cake paired with Castello Banfi Rosa Regalle

For these special Monday nights, best to call and make reservations, 631-812-0060. I’ll see you there.

56 Stewart Avenue, located next to Toast, diagonally across from Burger King.