On The Sausage Trail: Chicago – – Bin 36

Chicago – – Bin 36

We taste a lot of sausages. A lot of sausages we taste we don’t talk about. Why bring mediocre experiences to your attention?

You see mediocre too often: republicans, democrats, reality tv, tv religion, interviews with football players, interviews with ceo’s. None of them worth capitalizing. They engineer enough wasted time onto themselves.

Eating great sausage, finding great sausage is not a common thing. Its like cable television: 265 channels and most of it forgettable.

Before common media induces your next coma of mediocrity and you find yourself in downtown Chicago, head over to Bin 36. The tourist guides might identify it as a wine bar. But wine bars aren’t known for their long-lived runs. Bin 36 has been around since before 9/11. Hard to believe but because its more than a wine bar it has legs and keeps delivering.

Thankfully they also have no television so it’s easy to concentrate, read a great wine list and have conversation without seeing a ticker symbol roll across the screen. Jimmy and Roberto were working the bar the evening we were visiting. They were great wine stewards and great with suggestions.

Bin 36 has a substantial wine list, wine flights, cheese flights, – – enough flights to carry your imagination to France, Portugal or Chile. Full entrees and very comfortable family room seating is also a plus. With some attention to detail you can also find sausages on the menu.

There are only two sausages on their menu. Both sausages are MUST try sausages: Cottechino sausage and Toulosse sausage.

The Cottechino can be found in the appetizer menu. The sausages were served on top of perfect polenta with a fried egg on top.

As a sausage purist I moved the egg to my partner’s plate. The Cottechino is easily some of the best sausage you will ever taste. I talked with the Sous Chef AJ about it. It’s a pork sausage but it will remind you of the best filet mignon. This sausage starts melting in your mouth when your fork touches it. The polenta was a very good base for the sausage and a tasty launching pad for the sausage.

Maybe it’s really butter disguised as meat, but order the Cottechino and experience an amazing taste sensation.

Warning: there’s not a lot of sausage in this appetizer. So before you start beating up on your dining partner about who gets the last past piece of sausage, pick up the menu and find the Toulousse sausage.

The Toulousse is housed in a cassoulet. They humored me and I got the Toulousse without all the rest of the cassoulet. . If you like beans and that stuff, fine. The sausage is fine naked. Where the Cottechino suddenly vaporizes in your mouth, the Toulousse has a slightly chewy texture and a smoky flavor. AJ confirmed that smoked bacon was part of this sausage.

AJ told me the Toulousse was also hand made. Chef John Caputo is the master of these recipes . John wasn’t working the night we visited. Maybe he was attending Zen sausage school, but obviously a master artist is at work here.

I could tell you we had wonderful wines: a 2009 Beckman Cuvee Le Bec, the 2009 Domaine Jean Touzet Chardonnay, and a 2010 Vina Tabali Viognier. But, that wouldn’t surprise anyone – you would expect this kind of variety and quality from Bin 36.

Here’s a crazy idea: if they can do a cheese flight and wine flight, why not a sausage flight. Maybe pigs can fly. Until that shows up on the menu, find the sausages where you can and order them.

Bin 36
161 North Jefferson St
Chicago, IL
(312) 995-6560