Elegant dining and stunning views –that’s what you get at bin on the lake in Kirkland, WA.
Every once in a while you run across a hotel restaurant that’s a total – and pleasant – surprise. Bin on the lake, the Woodmark Hotel’s upscale restaurant overlooking the eastern shore of Lake Washington in Kirkland, is just such an eating establishment.
Generally speaking, I don’t expect a lot from hotel restaurants. They’ve certainly improved over the past decade, but often they have the usual ho hum offerings. Not so, bin on the lake (no capitalization in the name). Under the capable direction of Chef Dylan Giordan and talented Sous Chef Rakesh Kondaiya, bin on the lake uses quality, local ingredients and creates familiar dishes with unusual twists.
The restaurant’s menu is divided into “raw,” “stirred,” “grilled,” “roasted,” “and then some.” They also offer a nightly special menu. While I found the menu categories a bit confusing, the food was outstanding. It started with a basket of house made mini-breads that were soft-chewy served with soft butter with a little salt on top.
We ordered two appetizer specials: squash blossom tempura and shigoku oysters on the half shell. The squash blossoms were lightly crispy and filled with silky goat cheese accented with sweet port syrup and a fig. The half-dozen oysters, which are a smallish Japanese variety with a mild ocean flavor, were served cold on a bed of ice and topped with a sweet-sour dice of watermelon pickles.
I ordered billy’s (again no capitalization) heirloom tomatoes and it proved an excellent choice. There were a couple different tomatoes, one beefy and rich tasting, the other with a bright, acidic flavor. The tomatoes were paired with fresh basil leaves and an excellent, creamy mozzarella that’s made in-house. My dining companion ordered the risotto, which was served with prawns, garlic, basil, and lemon. While the risotto had a nice seafood flavor, the rice was too chewy and not creamy enough to really qualify as a risotto and was the only mis-step during our meal.
Sous Chef Kondaiya was manning the kitchen the night we dined and he’s got a flare for producing both beautiful plates and dishes that masterfully pair sweet and savory. Both of us ordered the rack of lamb, which came as four thick chops, succulent, perfectly cooked, and seasoned with a sprinkling of sea salt. It was served with fingerling potatoes and, for a bit of sweetness, Rainier cherries and a drizzle of quality aged balsamic.
For non-lamb fans, they offer plenty of other choices, including options like grilled blue prawns, fettuccine with rabbit meatballs, hazelnut fed pork chops, Wayyu NY steak, scallops, salmon, ahi, and halibut
With our meal, Sous Chef’s Rondaiya’s twists on familiar dishes continued right into the dessert course. We tried the lemon cheesecake, which was über-silky with a nice lemony flavor, topped with cherries in a sweet liqueur. My friend, who professes to dislike cheesecake, said with some amount of amazement, “I really like this cheesecake.”
Our favorite dessert was their interpretation of traditional strawberry shortcake. It came as two flaky shortcakes and topped with fresh sliced strawberries with whipped cream laced with grilled lemon zest and tiny shreds of fresh basil. We enjoyed our desserts with hearty French press coffee that made a perfect end to a comforting, yet deliciously surprising meal. – Review BH