Upon first entry, Bin 281 may seem like any other multi-story, upmarket wine shop in north Tel Aviv, but a closer look reveals four heavenly stories of good food and excellent wine for fine dining enthusiasts.
Guy Goldman, owner and founder of the wine bar & bistro, had a clear vision for the space from the beginning. He wanted to create an intimate wine complex that allows visitors to enjoy good food and wine, as well as offer the opportunity to celebrate a special occasion - all under the same roof. This dream was fulfilled when Guy opened the four-story complex in 2011.
On a recent visit, the very personable and humble Guy led my friend and me on detailed tour to give us a sense of the ins and outs of the space.
A well-stocked wine shop occupies the ground floor, offering guests a vast selection of Israeli and foreign wines as well as other alcohols available. Next, on the first floor, lies the wine bar/bistro, replete with mood lighting and a smaller corner bar with a handful of larger, surrounding tables
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the tour was the second floor, which is entirely devoted to a single private function room, complete with private kitchen and space for up to 16 guests to enjoy an exclusive event.
While rooftop bars are commonplace in Tel Aviv, it's always refreshing to experience an outdoor bar with views of the city, so one can imagine our enthusiasm when Guy took us to the roof to show off the space where guests enjoy a fully-stocked wine bar and gorgeous views in the summer.
We spent most of the evening on the first floor in the wine bar/bistro, sampling some great wines from around the world as well as dishes prepared by resident chef Meir Karnash.
Meir took a break from the busy kitchen to personally serve us the first two dishes. We started with a plate of winter vegetables served with goat's cheese (NIS 35) and smoked salmon with reduced yogurt on seaweed blinis (NIS 59). While the cheese was rich and tasty, the vegetables were rather underwhelming. On the other hand, the salmon blinis were so good that my friend and I had trouble fairly distributing them amongst ourselves to ensure we each experienced the unique tastes in equal measure.
We then moved onto entrecote steak strips in a red wine sauce served with jacket potatoes covered in blue cheese sauce (NIS 78). The steak wasn't the best, but the blue cheese sauce was to die for.
At this stage in the evening, Guy briefly left us in the care of a rookie waiter. While the level of service dropped slightly and the dishes took longer to arrive from the kitchen, we waited happily, sipping on the excellent wines.
Next up were the veal meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce with baked wheat and garlic confit (NIS 56), followed by chicken fingers covered in beer batter served with three sauces (NIS 70) and mushroom and chestnut risotto with sour cream and dill (NIS 67). All of these dishes held their own and we proceeded to work our way through them with ease.
By the time we were ready for dessert, we were back in Guy's capable hands and he recommended the trio of mouses, which included white chocolate, dark chocolate and vanilla. Even though we were somewhat full, we still found room for the rich and creamy concoctions. The vanilla was my personal favorite.
Throughout the evening, Guy made sure our wine glasses were always topped up with the best wines he had to offer, including Chablis, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The menu is designed in such a way that each dish is paired with a suitable wine recommendation from Guy.
If the saying is true, we were certainly having fun because the time just flew by. Without ever realizing it, we had been sitting at the bar for over four hours. Even though some of this time was spent waiting a little too long for dishes while Guy was otherwise engaged, we spent the majority of the time enjoying a relaxed meal in a classy atmosphere with good wine flowing.
I can't wait to return in the summer to have a bottle of good wine while watching the sunset from the spacious rooftop bar.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant
Bin 281, Dizengoff 281, Tel Aviv
Shop open 11 a.m. till 11 p.m.
Wine bar/bistro open 7 p.m. till last customer leaves