Restaurant: Bin 790 Bistro Tapas & Wine Bar
Location: 790 Kanata Avenue, Ottawa, ON
Cuisine: Tapas/ Seafood/ Brunch
Although this was not the first time I’ve dined at Bin 790, I was excited to explore the tastes of their Happy Hour Menu. It was last-call for Happy Hour and we made it just in time for the deals. Everything on the Happy Hour menu was $4, even drinks!
The atmosphere and decor has a very posh vibe, but it’s a great setting for after-work drinks with co-workers. I could assume that since there was a rush, that service would be lacking. However, for a small bistro I expected better service even during busy hours. I really enjoyed my first visit, but during Happy Hour it was almost impossible to get any service.
What ruined the experience was really the attitude of our service. My co-worker invited a friend and we needed one extra chair, but they wouldn’t allow us to grab an extra chair from an empty table because they said it was reserved (it had been empty for awhile). I don’t know what was worse; the fact that they didn’t take initiative to solve the problem by getting a chair from tables with extra chairs (we did that ourselves) or that the so-called “reserved table” remained empty the whole time we were there! Food is always the star, but service can really make or break the experience.
My co-worker and I went on an ordering frenzy while waiting for the others to arrive. But what really seems to make time pass by faster are drinks:). Started off with two glasses of Sangria. Quite disappointed because the White Sangria tasted like lemon water; the flavor was flat and unappealing. The Red Sangria was a bit better, still seemed to be a bit “watered-down”, but it had a fruitier aroma.
As recommended by our waitress, we ordered the Marinated Mushrooms, which was unexpectedly a cold dish. I enjoyed the firm bouncy texture of the mushrooms. The marinade was quite acidic; it had a bold vinegary flavor. Nevertheless, it was a refreshing start to the list of appetizers I ordered.
Clearly nothing out of the ordinary, but I really can’t resist sweet potato fries. Just a sweet and crispy piece of heaven. We ordered two of these! I’ve had better sweet potato fries elsewhere, but these, nonetheless, satisfied my taste buds. With a dip into the creamy aioli, that sweet and savory mix of flavor was perfection (especially with a drink in hand;)).
This was the dish I was looking forward to; the mussels! The sauce had a bold tomato flavor, but I didn’t get any kick from the chili. As someone who doesn’t eat spicy, I may have been happy, but I think more presence of the chili flavor would have enhanced the flavor. Strange thing is, I liked the chorizo much more than the actual mussels. The chorizo simply absorbed all the flavors of the sauce and every little piece was juicy and savory. Sadly, the mussels were not plump at all and the casual grainy/gritty texture from the shell residue was unpleasant, to say the least. Minus the mussels, the broth would have been perfect with a baguette for dipping;).
In terms of value, this was not worth $4:(. I enjoyed it, but for $4 it should have been a lot bigger and better. The sauce that topped the pulled pork was sweet and paired well with the buttery flavor of the buns. I actually really liked the bun because it was like a sweetened dinner roll:). While despite my lack of interest in coleslaw, it added a refreshing crunch and elevated the sweetness of the slider.
Much like the Pulled Pork slider, this was an over-priced “two bites”. A portion of the toast was over-charred rendering a very bitter taste. Somehow the toast managed to be too dry on the edges and extremely greasy on the tops. Maybe this is a hit-or-miss, but the braised meat was quite dry. Also, I’m not sure if this really counts as “grilled cheese” when the cheese was so scarce.
It’s quite questionable whether the Happy Hour Menu has great value. Is it really a deal if you’re charging lower prices but for substantially less portions? I came back to Bin 790 because my initial visit was such a pleasure, but my attempt to take advantage of their Happy Hour specials turned into mixed feelings about the bistro in general.