Bin 36 Chicago

So I went to Chicago in search of cheese. Okay, not true, but once I saw the cheese list at Bin 36 I was mystified and made it my job to find this place. Over 45 cheeses, and a delightful set of wine and cheese flights. Done deal.

They had so many wine and cheese flights that we didn’t feel like reading through them all, and many of the cheese flights didn’t work with wine flights very well. So a friend and I decided we’d create our own cheese flights based on the wines we liked. We went with the bubbles.

The “Bubble” Flight included: 1) NV Brut Gruner Veltliner, Szigeti, Neusidersee, Austria 2) NV Brut Blanc de Noirs, Gruet Winery, Albuquerque, New Mexico 3) NV Brut Chenin Blanc, Tabernero, Peru and 4) NV Rose, Varichon Et Clerc, Savoie, France.

We selected a Pierre Robert, a Robiola Tre Latte, and a Gorgonzola Dolce. All of the cheeses were super creamy, so the bubbles cut the fat from the cheese – just kind of cleaned our palettes. The Pierre Robert, the calm thing it is, meshed well with everything. The Robiola Tre Latte was a little different, with the sharp taste of the goat cheese in it not being a total hit with all of the wines.

Then we decided to do the Sexy Reds wine flight.

The “Sexy Reds” Flight included: 1) NV Grenache/Syrah/Merlot, Fess Parker, “Hodge du Podge,” 2) 2007 Proprietary Red (Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah/Petite Sirah/Petit Verdot/Merlot) 3) 2006 Zinfandel, BIN 36 and 4) 2008 Petite Sirah/Syrah/Viognier, Peltier Station, “Hybrid,” California.

For this flight, we had another piece of the Pierre Robert, an aged Gouda, and a Tomme Crayeuse. The Tomme Crayeuse went with the 2007 Proprietary Red that made it feel much more pronouncedly earthy on the finish. This cheese has hints of mushrooms, but with the red wine, it totally transformed it. The wine has dark red fruit flavor (plums and blackberries), but also a dark chocolate/earthy mineral flavor. The earthy flavor in the wine + the earthy flavor in the cheese was delicious in the mouth! Amazing. This was one of those pairings I will definitely do again.

The cheeses came with sliced apples and Cabernet-flavored Jell-o. Creative, but seriously, what was I going to do with Jell-o? Put it on my cheese? Uh, no. But it also came with a fig-honey compote that was quite nice with the Robiola, in which the tang of the goat cheese was more pronounced.

The storage system at Bin 36. Crappy picture, I know, but you get the point.

The staff was super helpful and knowledgeable about the cheese but I wasn’t a huge fan of the storage system. Everything was just kind of out, plastic wrap hanging off the shelves. Goes against my inner cheesemonger’s storage tips (cheese paper or wax paper). No domed storage or humidity-controlled area. But, nonetheless, the cheese was excellent. And what I loved is that the cheeses were inexpensive (the servings were small too, mind you) so you could taste maybe 5 cheeses for 10 to 15 bucks. Perfect for those trying to learn more.

We wanted to order food, but seriously I had a tough time. The menu was a little random, like shrimp cocktail and butternut squash tarts. Huh? So we had salads. And they were okay, but after 8 half-glasses of wine and all that cheese, you want more than a salad.

So all in all, the cheese was amazing, but the food wasn’t impressive.

And, randomly, because this bar is attached to the Sax hotel (which is dope, by the way), a guy came over and picked up our tab and put it on his room tab. I guess the empty glasses from the wine flights made it seem like we were drunk. We were not. At least not drunk enough for all that…

I definitely recommend Bin 36 for cheese and wine, but skip the food.