Bin228, the sophisticated wine bar conveniently located across from Hartford's TheaterWorks, has been serving downtown guests for 13 years. Now owner Alicia Roncari brings that city flair east of the river, with the introduction of Bin228 Gastropub in Glastonbury.
Fans of the chic, cozy Pearl Street space won't see a lot of similarities to the Hartford location there, though. The suburban restaurant, situated in a Hebron Avenue strip mall, is flooded with natural light and features industrial-style decor, long wooden tables and — perhaps the most striking distinction — 18 brews on draft.
The beer lineup heavy on local and regional craft options is a departure from Hartford's lengthy, eclectic wine list, with dozens of varietals available by the glass, "quartino" and bottle. Roncari knows her wine, but was searching for a new focus for the second location, she says.
"When we were looking to do this … we knew we had to do something different."
She had been hunting for another restaurant spot for years, she says, but nothing she saw felt quite right. But she got a call last year when the former Mustard Seed Café became available, and the location "struck a chord. I thought it would be a cool addition."
With the help of her business partners Dan Urlage and Daniel Coburn, and the construction abilities of her brother-in-law Joe Marconi and boyfriend Tom Deffenbaugh, she opened the second Bin228 in April.
With a full kitchen, the Glastonbury restaurant has much more capability to be creative with the food, Roncari says. In Hartford, the menu features mostly panini, bruschetta, charcuterie and cheese and a few select small plates, as the tiny kitchen is only equipped with two hot plates, a panini grill and a small convection oven. Roncari says she was like "a kid in a candy shop" with the expanded space, realizing its potential.
The gastropub's menu is significantly larger than its city sibling's, and that concept "gives you license to really do almost anything you want as far as the food goes," Roncari says.
"You don't have to be one specific thing; it's almost like French bistro meets London pub." As Glastonbury is home to several Italian restaurants, she says she intended to steer away from the original wine bar's Italian focus and present something new.
Glastonbury's selections include expanded small plates ($4.50 to $15), including the best-selling Sriracha lime beer corn fritters; pretzel and pork chive dumplings with tahini; mussels piri piri; and grilled avocado, halved and stuffed with pico de gallo. Assorted salads, or "ruffage" ($7 to $9), feature beets, warm kale and quinoa with grilled halloumi cheese, and flatbreads ($12) are topped with vegetables, pear and Gorgonzola and duck confit with fontina and wild mushrooms.
Bin Burgers ($13 and $14) include a feta-and-spinach turkey patty finished with Boursin cream, a quinoa-based veggie version and a beef burger topped with fried egg and raclette cheese. A quarter-pound, all-beef hot dog ($12) with truffled mayonnaise, Gruyere and housemade mustard relish has been a big hit, Roncari says.
Baked raclette, a Swiss-inspired dish of melted cheese poured over steamed Yukon Gold potatoes and served with prosciutto, coppa and sopressata, was inspired by executive chef Peter Johnson's childhood family trips skiing the Alps. Other larger plates ($14 to $28) include mahi-mahi tacos with tomato and mango salsa, pork vindaloo, braised short ribs, fish and chips and steak frites with bearnaise butter. A daily "pasta of the moment" is available at lunch; in the evening, it's a risotto offering.
After-dinner sweets ($7 to $10) include housemade cinnamon doughnuts with caramel sauce, Nutella mousse, bread pudding, ice cream and sorbet from J. Foster and a new confection: a fried dough shell filled with vanilla bean gelato and topped with caramelized apples and caramel. Cocktails ($9 to $12) or "alternative bevs," feature martinis, mojitos, a tropical rum punch and a Manhattan.
Though beer has been an integral part of the gastropub's new bar, Bin228 still retains its identity as a wine destination, and the Glastonbury location offers a lengthy list of reds, whites, rose and sparkling varieties — most available by the glass. A handful of wines are even available "on tap." Happy hour, available weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m., features specials on draft beers, wines, cocktails and appetizers.
The restaurant is primed for summer with sunny patio seating and large windows that open to the outside, allowing for breezy open-air dining. Indoor and outdoor stool seating is available on either side of the windows.
"I want it to be fun," says Roncari, whose longtime restaurant career includes management positions with Peppercorn's Grill and Max Restaurant Group. "That's the whole reason I got into this business. I want to make people happy. I want people to feel like they're coming to my house."
Read our Bin228 Liquor Cabinet here.
Bin228 Gastropub, 63 Hebron Ave., Glastonbury, is open Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 4 to 9 p.m. 860-430-9699, thebin228.com.