Permits, permits, permits. They're the bane of every restaurateur's existence in the pre-opening phase of a new restaurant. But Kevin Binkley -- who opened Binkley's Restaurant in 2004 and Café Bink in 2008 -- is taking it all in stride, sprucing up the former Sophie's Bistro space on Osborn in preparation for an early to mid-March opening.
It didn't take Kevin and his wife Amy long to settle on a name -- Bink's -- and they know exactly where they're headed with the concept (think fresh, think local, think loads of veggies). But as Binkley points out, the new place will evolve over time. Here are a few things the two are planning.
Although tables will be draped in white tablecloths, they'll also be topped with butcher paper, which, together with dishtowel napkins, will signify "relaxed American bistro," not the price points or the formality of Binkley's.
Binkley says he hasn't changed the former Sophie's space too dramatically -- fresh paint, reupholstered chairs, new banquettes, new light fixtures, re-finished floors and grounds grooming -- but he's reconfigured a few areas for better flow. And although you may never see it, he's also sunk a chunk of change in the kitchen.
He plans to bring in a liquid nitrogen tank for frozen martinis and other cool molecular cocktails, and he says his thick paper menus will be topped with a smaller daily menu -- the one bound to the other with a tiny clothespin -- naming what's fresh that day and the farmer who grew it.
Prices will be extremely reasonable: a $14 check average for lunch and a $28 check average for dinner. Dinner entrees will range between the mid-teens to low-20's. The message conveyed: This is Bink's, not Binkley's.
Although the menu will surely be tweaked a dozen times before opening, here are a few things we might expect (in some delicious version or other): Shaved fennel -- orange, olives, red onion Citrus salad -- honey, watercress, hazelnuts Beets -- orange, goat cheese Vanilla carrots -- raisins, parsley Dates -- arugula, ricotta, walnut vinaigrette
Roasted cauliflower -- yellow curry Rosemary roasted rutabaga -- toasted caraway Butternut squash puree -- maple butter Grilled asparagus -- chorizo, fried egg Tepary beans -- sweet onion, pancetta
Foie gras beignet -- blood orange marmalade Green chile pork pupusa -- lime and cilantro crème fraiche White truffle tater tots -- aerated cheddar cheese Smoked sturgeon -- shaved celery salad, pickled red onion Parmesan and pine nut baklava -- charred tomato jam
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Crispy sweetbread nuggets -- sweet & sour sauce Slow-cooked pork belly -- blood orange, molasses glaze Roasted bone marrow -- orange gremolata, toast Chicken liver mousse -- brandy gelee, cornichon, crostini
Trout -- brown butter, almonds Five-spice duck breast -- grilled grapes, port vinaigrette Cider-braised pork cheeks -- roasted apple Hanger steak -- red wine shallots
Drooling yet? A few of Cafe Bink's classics -- the Sloppy Joe and Amy's Bolognese, for example -- will show up at the Osborn location. And at some point very soon, Binkley will roll out the Caja China for whole-roasted pig on Saturdays.