Thursday, November 02, 2006

Andre's Secret: Bin 71

Sip, Nibble and Be As Hip As You Wanna Be

I hate to even write this.

It seems every time I stumble across what I would call a “gem”, I open my big mouth, and the word gets out. Not that I can take responsibility for setting culinary trends in this fair city mind you, but I do know that enough people read this blog to spark some chatter (or so my email tells me)… or at least drive someone to a plate of fried chicken somewhere. But good is good, and I just can’t keep this one to myself.

So in lieu of keeping the marvelous secret to myself, I hereby blog, Bin 71.

Where to start.

Bin 71 is everything that makes New York great (did I just write that campy little nugget?).

It’s a wine spot with terrific vintages and surprisingly good and hard to find beers on tap (think Blue Point, Double Chocolate Stout and hearty German Pils).

It’s a cozy meeting place to meet your “other” and never be seen.

It’s a gourmet hang with small plates of crudités and large bowls of spicy stew.

It’s a plate of toasted Tuscan bread smothered in warm Nutella chocolate.

All of this, and only 22 seats. 10 of which I would call rather cramped.

You see, Bin 71 is a tiny, charming space that may be the size of your living room (if that). When you enter you realize… the space is about 12 feet deep, and about 25 feet wide.

Around the handsome bar are Sunday afternoon regulars, sipping wine, reading the paper in utter sophistication… commenting on the topics of the day… over a glass of Malbec. This is heaven.

No college rats, no fluff. Neighborhood folks, doing their thing.

It is the spot the tourists seek but never find, the place you can convince yourself that you and you alone discovered.

And where is it?

Well, the surprising fact is, it is an Upper West Side hang. Yup. Really.

You’ll walk in and snicker for sure, as it looks and feels about as West Village as a place can look… if not Nolita. But sure thing, it is a UWS joint, tucked in an unassuming block of Columbus between 70 and 71.

Here comes the bad news.

The place has been open a while. Which means, unless you are targeting an off-peak visit, you are going to have trouble getting a seat. Folks like to hang out here, and waiting for a seat to open up can take a while.

Attached to the outer walls of Bin 71 are small counters and stools, but there is no mystery… the bar boasts the most coveted seats in the house. This place is s-m-a-l-l.

Is it worth it??

Well yes, it is.

My Sunday afternoon visit was maybe the best weekend “re-set” I’ve had in months. For those of you with stressful jobs, you know all about weekend resets. That moment when you can put the week behind you, toast your partner and think of bigger and better things. You forget the parents, the pesky unassuming neighbors, the late subway train, the line at Dunkin Donuts.

Places like Bin 71 are made for just the occasion. Or just about any occasion when you need to hunt down a tiny, charming space… and escape to New York.

Bin 71
237 Columbus at 71st
Daily until 1am