Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bin 941 tortures poor people


The two Vancouver restaurants, Bin 941 and 942, are tapas restaurants of some renown in this town. I had eaten at Bit 942 a few years ago and remember their so-called "tapas" were the size of meals, what in Spain would be called "raciones" as I recall my Spanish food terms. Not cheap as tapas should be, but the food was good. I recall a portabello tower that was a sizable meal and worth it. In the local TV guide, it was mentioned that the Bins were now serving Pinxos, the Basque word for tapas, by which the Bins meant very small portions. But for $5.00. You can eat very well for $5 in Spain but not in Vancouver. I was intrigued.
After a couple hours wandering around downtown Vancouver taking pictures on a hot day, I got to Bin 941 a few minutes after it opened at 5:00. There were only 4 Pinxos on the menu, a bison dish that didn't interest me at all, calimari which I love but with chili sauce which I avoid, and two that appeared to me: smoked halibut, summer bean salad, olive oil, fresh lemon, crispy shallots; and fresh Qualicum Beach scallop ceviche, minted watermelon, coconut foam.
The halibut pinxo turned out to be a single bite of fish and seemingly endless collection of peas that had died and gone to hell for sins against taste. I have never seen a collection of such mouth watering ingredients turn into a meal that bad before. Is the chef in competition to see who can make the worst food in the city, and torture the most poor people? He should pay people $5.00 to eat this garbage, though you'd have to be desparately poor and hungry to accept.
Before the food arrived, I was tired and thirsty from a couple of hours of taking pictures on a hot summer day. As I sat down and looked at the menu, I didn't see sangria so I asked if they had it by the glass. Turns out they call it Bingria here and indeed, a small glass shortly appeared which I almost instantly emptied. I ordered another, before finally finding it on the menu and being shocked at its price. I drank the 2nd glass VERY SLOWLY.
The watermelon pinxo looks better than it tastes (see above). Not bad, just not particularly memorable. Made better with small sips of the "Bingria." My 2nd bite revealed a most unexpected ingredient. I had to waste far too much of the expensive beverage washing away the chili. I asked the waitress about it and she asked the chef and the fact that Thai chilis were also in the dish was confirmed. I asked for a glass of ice water. I got a glass of water, no ice, but still its freeness almost made up for that fact. I identified the chilis in the dish and shunted them aside. The "coconut" nature of the foam was too understated to work with the heavy mint flavour/watermelony distinctive sweetness. The scallops weren't particularly memorable. At least my taste buds weren't insulted (once the chilis were identified and sent to their own private Gitmo). Still, to entice the legions of poor people in Vancouver to dinner and then inflict food of this hideousness upon them is to make poverty even harder to take. I think Bin should stick to torturing the rich. They can at least afford to wash away the insults with pricey Bingria. Maybe the halibut thing could be offered to people on death's doorstep. They would take a bite and then refusing to let such rot be their final meal, they'd live on in search of a good meal to go out on.

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