If Mistral Kitchen was less than I suspect it could be for a non-Seattle Restaurant Week experience, then Kirkland’s Bin on the Lake is certainly the opposite. Located in the Woodmark Hotel, I didn’t know much about the restaurant when I picked it off the list for dinner, and as a result didn’t have especially high expectations. But start to finish, they did a great job of making me feel as though they were excited to have us there and prepared to show off what the restaurant could do. It’s not that the interior was especially stunning -- the stunning happens just outside, with the beautiful view of Lake Washington -- or that the food was particularly inventive, but it was a good, solid experience.
From the three course menu, we started with appetizers of Dungeness crab fritters and beef brisket sliders. The fritters were served with butternut squash and a smear of jalapeno honey, and I thought that they were terrifically crisp and crab-flavorful. The sliders weren’t quite as successful for me -- the overly sweet sauce reminded me of childhood visits to the local Longhorn Barbecue -- but I loved the crispy shallots and mini brioche bun.
From there it was on to an entrée of pork tenderloin on a bed to-die-for crispy spätzle and apple cream, with some leafy greens and golden raisins sprinkled throughout.
Although I generally don’t order a chicken breast when out and about, this one came recommended by our server and turned out be an excellent choice. The chicken itself was cooked beautifully, and arrived atop a stack of brussels sprout and bacon hash, and Beecher’s white cheddar grits, all drizzled with a nicely tart mustard vinaigrette.
We finished the meal with a tasty duo of chocolate mousse with Grand Marnier-soaked strawberries, and espresso bread pudding with accompanying dots of lemon caramel. I’ve been thinking about this, and surely one of the reasons I like things like Seattle Restaurant Week and Dine Around Seattle is that I’m “made” to eat dessert. As one of three courses, one wouldn’t want dessert to feel left out by being refused, would one?