Corks+Forks: Bin on the Lake’s Poutine with Pinotage

Chef Giordan cooks up local-centric fare with a Euro-twist and affection for wine.

A chef who fouls up poutine should consider a job alteration. Pronounced “poo-tin,” the traditional Quebec-French dish consists simply of crisp potato fries, chunky cheese curds and a bountiful portion of gravy spread on top. Arguably a recipe for a clogged artery, poutine might be easier said than done and the intricacies of the dish at Kirkland’s bin on the lake make it well worth the health remorse.

“My concept is using local foods and treating them really well,” said bin on the lake Chef Dylan Giordan of his restaurant’s “American” cuisine. “I use really simple flavors with great products from the Northwest, drawing from European influences but sticking to things that are eclectically Northwest.”

Giordan said he attempts to push the envelope with the often insipid Eastside dining experience through local foods of comfort like this dish which uses Beecher’s cheese,  along with menu items such as Taylor Shellfish farmed oysters, pork belly and regionally foraged mushroom risotto.

The former Serafina Enoteca and Osteria executive chef came on as chef de cuisine at the Woodmark Hotel, Yacht Club & Spa’s bin on the lake early this year. Giordan’s background commenced at age 14 in a pizzeria in his hometown of Harvard, Illinois and after a degree and stint in sound engineering, Giordan came back to his gastronomic roots and moved them to the Pacific Northwest to work for Chris Keff at the Flying Fish then migrated to Serafina and Cicchetti to hold the reins for a decade.

“Chef Dylan is a mastermind at creating delicious fare from our region’s local ingredients,” said John Murphy, General Manager of the Woodmark Hotel, Yacht Club & Spa. Murphy also said he believes Giordan’s culinary and enology travels throughout Europe and his extensive tenure at Serafina will add as heavy ammunition to the already robust wine-focused restaurant.

“Having so many glass pours, I couldn’t cook something that we couldn’t pair it too as we have such great versatility,” Giordan said of his partnering wine list at bin. “I think that in a European winemaking mindset, food and wine go together and that’s what I like to do. Food always has to have a wine correspondent.”

The Dish: Duck confit poutine ($16) — Delicately truffled fries are cordially tossed with Seattle’s own Beecher’s plump and squeaky cheese curds. To make matters richer, savory brown gravy is drizzled atop and duck confit is freely shredded as a garnish. See above: a solid chef cannot screw this up. It is as good as it sounds.

The Variety: Pinotage — South African wines were put on the map by their flagship grape Pinotage. The hybrid variety originally was a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault bred in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at the prominent Stellenbosch University. Typically round in red bramble and berry fruit, the wine is smoky, earthy and revealing in mineral tones of clay and spice. Comparable to Pinot Noir but with an accent of tang and twang.

Why It Works: That tang – Pinotage has enough acidity and sweet n’sour fruit to pack a punch parallel to a dish as opulent as poutine. The fruit also has depth to double the pleasure and shows off its versatility.

The Recommended Match: Southern Right 2009 Pinotage, Walkers Bay ($19) — Produced in a classic Pinotage style of polished intensity, the wine shows wild fruits like bramble berries and red currants off the bat. It peals off layers over time of coffee bean, sweet smoke, mineral and spice and ends with structural tannins and energetic acidity that hugs the tongue on the way out the door without lingering awkwardly.

“Eating is the best way to connect with people, and my favorite part about this profession, is being able to create a community and camaraderie through thoughtfully prepared food,” said Giordan. “I’m looking forward to infusing a bit of my style with the current successes of bin on the lake to further establish that bond with our diners.”

Bin on the Lake | 1270 Carillon Point, Kirkland | (425) 803-5595