Longmont’s Beguiling Bin 46

Guest post by my friend Melanie Mulhall.

When those of us who live on the Front Range of Colorado think wine bar on a Friday evening, we are usually also thinking Denver or Boulder, not Longmont. But Longmont is exactly where wine bar lovers will find the chic and very worthy wine bar, Bin 46. This is a comfortable, modern, hip place without pretense. Inside, the walls are covered with art, and there is abundant seating outside for those who want to enjoy their wine and eats en plein air. 

Over three trips, my friends and I have worked our way through many items on the happy hour menu including the PEI mussels, charcuterie, wild trout spread, Spanish anchovies, crab cake, diablo eggs, roasted Brussels sprouts, and brisket mac and cheese. We have also savored an Italian beef slider and fresh figs. Everything we had was several steps up from the usual happy hour fare. 

Bin 45’s smoked trout spread with accoutrements (cucumbers, celery, fresh dill and naan bread).

The smoked trout spread was made with Ducktrap (as in Ducktrap River in Maine) trout. Pleasantly singing with dill, it was served with cucumbers, celery, and naan. Gluten free crackers for the gluten free diner (me) were added cheerily and without fuss by the server.  

Roasted Brussels sprouts in with ale,  Applewood-smoked bacon and Balsamic vinegar.

The roasted Brussels sprouts seem to be a favorite, so if you go, try to snag an order before they’re gone. Made with Bootstrap Brewing Insane Rush Pale Ale and Applewood smoked bacon, they are great as a nosh or to accompany dinner. 

Swoon-worthy, but only available when fresh figs can be had, the figs were spread with goat cheese, wrapped in prosciutto and finished with a pistachio and honey drizzle. For those of us who love figs, this would have been heaven on a plate even without the drizzle, but the pistachio and honey drizzle took it to at least the seventh level of nirvana. The figs are an example of the thought and creativity that goes into the offerings, so even if you don’t manage to find them on the menu, know that you will probably find something equally imaginative and delicious.

 This is also a place worth visiting for dinner. The prices are reasonable and the choices range from beef stroganoff and Bolognese to Cubano sliders and spicy chorizo mussels.

 There are 150 wines in stock at Bin 46 served by the bottle, pour, and taste.  I loved the fact that they have a very nice Malbec as a happy hour house red. There’s also a well-curated list of craft beers. 

Owner Candy Campbell’s house rules are these: Love people, love wine, love food. Her execution strategy? Be kind. Be different. Be unpretentious. I think that she and Chefs Eric Dwyer and Marc Hernandez deliver on those promises.

[Here’s a very personal note from Malanie] It was great to see Candy A Campbell, and I had the pleasure of seeing her son, too . . . now pretty much grown up and not the little boy I remembered. But it was also glorious to know that she, the chef, and all the staff have made a place I want to return to again and again.

The Bin 46 rules are these: Love people. Love wine. Love food. And the execution strategy is this: Be kind. Be different. Be unpretentious. I think they deliver.

Price check: At happy hour, $3 for a street taco to $14 for a sizable portion of PEI mussels.

600 Longs Peak Avenue,  Longmont,  720-438-7410 .  

Exotic New Restuarant in Iceland

Top Nordic chef’s dramatic cuisine switch to North Africa & the Middle East. 

Sumac Grill + Drinks is a new restaurant in Reykjavik specializing in Lebanese and Moroccan cuisine. That’s kind of a gee-whiz piece of news, but what makes it really remarkable is that it is the brainchild of Þráinn Freyr Vigfússon, one of Iceland’s star chefs. He is former head chef of the highly regarded Lava Restaurant at the Blue Lagoon restaurant and coach of the national Icelandic cooking team.

Chef Þráinn Freyr Vigfússon in front of the steaming waters of the Blue Lagoon.

This is quite a departure for Vigfússon, who is known as a pioneer of New Nordic cuisine with really sterling creds — Iceland Chef of the Year (2007); One World Culinary Chef Competition, gold medal (2008); Nordic Chef of the Year, silver medal (2009); World Culinary Cup, two gold medals (2014). He and culinary partner and head chef Hafsteinn Ólafsson, Þráinn curated a savory menu that brings together Icelandic traditions and the exotic flare from the coastline of North Africa and the Middle East. What an interesting mix — and I report it here because I am very fond of Iceland.

Sumac Grill + Drinks brings a new flavor to the Reykjavik restaurant scene.  Related Lebanese and Moroccan cuisine are characterized by fried foods with exotic spices, yogurt sauce, marinated eggs, eggplant, hummus, pomegranates and more.

The name of the restaurant comes from the berry, Sumac, which when left out in the sun to dry, can be used as a fragrant spice that adds a “clean astringency and citrus tang to the dish.” Sumac’s bar also includes an extensive wine and cocktail list, naturally including drinks featuring Reyka Vodka, Iceland’s award-winning vodka brand. Click  here for the menu.

The restaurant is located at Laugavegur 28 in downtown Reykjavik.

Denver Food/Wine Fest Next Weekend

Showcase for cuisine, wine & spirits.

2016 dates on this logo.

The 13th annual Denver Food + Wine Festival  starts with Barbecue, a food film, at the Sie Film Center on September 5 and concludes on the 10th with the Rise + Dine brunch. The glamour event, of course, is Saturday’s  Grand Tasting on the Pepsi Center grounds, featuring 700 international wines and some 40 Denver restaurants. Lead sponsors at  Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Colorado and the Colorado Restaurant Association. In between are The Shakedown (a bartender competition), a six-course dinner under the stars at Coohill’s Restaurant and the always informative Riedel Wine Glass seminar. Click here for the schedule and here to purchase tickets.

New Executive Chef at Gateway Canyons

Hartwell now heads culinary team at luxe resort in western Colorado.  

I’ve never been to, much less dined at, the Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa, a world-class destination practically at the Utah state line. But I’m impressed at the credentials of the new executive chef. Thomas Hartwell has accepted position at the resort in the spectacular Unaweep Canyon. Its remoteness alone is a challenge, and so are  the five dining facilities (Entrada, Paradox Grille, Kiva Café Cantina and Duesey’s Diner) with different styles. The combination is a challenge.

Like other leading chefs, Hartwell began his restaurant career modestly, first as a prep cook and busboy at the Stage Door Restaurant outside Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  After holding several positions at various restaurants in his home state of Michigan, he moved to Santa Rosa, California to join the team at Restaurant Matisse, a French-inspired California cuisine restaurant under the guidance of Chef Michael Hirschberg.  From there, he landed a coveted internship at Michelin-starred Land Hoff in Solingen, Germany.   

Chef Robert Hartwell

Over the years, Hartwell also held culinary positions at The Westin Copley Place in Boston and at the historic Boston Park Plaza Hotel under Chef Roland Z.  He then opened his own restaurant, The Old Stone Farm House, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Prior to joining the team at Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa, Hartwell served as chef de cuisine at the Meritage Hotel and Resort in Napa and also  the popular restaurant, Zuzu, in downtown Napa for four years.  

The elegant adobe-style resort, offering a whole lot more than just food and scenery, has enjoyed recognition beyond our red-rock country. Among its awards, in 2017 it was named the #3 “Best Resort in the West” in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards competition, #52 in the Top 100 Hotels in the World category and #11 in the Top 15 Resort Hotels in the Continental United States category. Seems as if Gateway Canyons and Chef Hartwell are a good match. And perhaps I will get there someday.

Colorado Chefs in Colombia

I don’t usually do follow-up picture posts, but I was so tickled that two Colorado chefs were invited to cook at a culinary festival in Barranquilla, Colombia, that I wrote a post.  Diane Coohill sent me this picture from opening day of the festival. After this, she and Chef Tom are going on a trek to Everest base camp in Nepal. Classic Coloradans!

From left, Tom Coohill and Diane Coohill of Coohill’s in Denver, and Daniel Asher of River & Woods in Boulder at a gastronomic festival in Barranquilla, Colombia.

SOL Tweaks Its Menu

Mexican food with style in Cherry Creek.

A few days after Denver’s spacious and attractive SOL Mexican Cocina celebrated its first birthday, the Baja-inspired restaurant rolled out new happy hour items and  resized lunch offerings (smaller  renditions of its generous dinner portions). I had the fortunate opportunity to join a couple of hours of sampling many dishes emanating from the glassed-in kitchen presided over by Cortland Collins, elevated from sous-chef to executive chef not long ago. And then, there were the restaurant’s award-winning margs.

Just about everything is made in house, save for the tortillas, which are made to SOL’s specifications by the esteemed La Tolteca Foods in Pueblo. At Cherry Creek rents, it would be foolish to have an in-house production set-up for the quantity they need.

Summery watermelon margarita, judges’ No. 1 choice cocktail at the recent Top Taco event.
Huge tortilla chips with two salsas — tomatillo-chipotle and black bear — made fresh every day.
Tortilla with a floating island of thin avocado slices.
Watermelon copita with cubes of sweet melon, salt, ground chile and lime wedges.
Mexx Chopp Salad (yes, that’s how SOL spells it) — this version with beef.

Continue reading SOL Tweaks Its Menu

Top 10 Listing for Colorado Mountain Winefest

USA Today’s selections puts upcoming festival in the spotlight. 

Just as a prelude to the upcoming Colorado Mountain Wine Festival (September 14-17) comes word that it was voted the best wine festival in the U.S. by USA Today’s 10Best website. That’s right: THE BEST in the whole country, even beating out New York and Chicago.

A panel of wine and travel experts nominated 20 of the best festivals celebrating wine, wine culture and wine tourism across the country’s top wine-making regions. The panel included Jill Barth, an internationally published wine writer and journalist; Jil Child, partner and co-owner of Wine Tours of the World; and Karen MacNeil, one of the foremost wine experts in the U.S. Readers pared the nominee list by half to come up with the 10 winners.

The Top 10
(In addition to being thrilled that a Colorado festival took the top spot, I’m happy that Charlottesville, Virginia, was voted #3 — good news for a city recently in the headlines for terrible reasons.)

  1. Colorado Mountain Winefest – Palisade, Colo.
  2. Vintage Ohio – Kirtland, Ohio
  3. Virginia Wine Summit – Charlottesville, Va.
  4. Finger Lakes Wine Festival – Watkins Glen, N.Y.
  5. Chicago Gourmet – Chicago
  6. Hawaii Food & Wine Festival – Honolulu
  7. BottleRock Napa Valley – Napa, Calif.
  8. Taste of Sonoma – Sonoma, Calif.
  9. New York City Wine & Food Festival – New York
  10. Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest – Rhinebeck, N.Y.

    Click here for a list of participating wineries and here for a schedule of events, which include wine country tours, tastings, pairings and the big “Festival in the Park” on the 16th. It is the state’s largest and oldest wine festival featuring more than 55 Colorado wineries, live music, a grape stomp, live demonstrations and seminars.

 

Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.