Annie and Timothy Tow might be newbies at running their own restaurant, but they brought a ton of experience to the table when they recently opened their first restaurant, the classy Bin 35 Bistro in Brookside.
Annie had worked at the Brook and Brook South for most of two decades, and Timothy had worked at the Brook off and on for years. They met at the Brook.
Timothy also was the opening manager for two Pei Wei Asian Diners in Tulsa and had managing positions at Applebee’s and Zio’s. During college, he worked at Eskimo Joe’s in Stillwater.
“We worked for some great companies, but we’ve wanted to have our own restaurant for years,” Annie said.
She said they recently found an ad on a brokerage website for a wine bistro in Brookside, and it did not take them long to figure out it was The Hen Bistro & Wine Bar.
“We had dinner here for the first time one night, discreetly tried to question the staff about things and made an offer the next day,” Timothy said. “We immediately loved the place and the feel of it.
“Then we brought over (Brook owner) Michael Watkins to look it over and give his advice. We couldn’t be more excited.”
The Tows said they also made fast friends with The Hen Bistro owner, Kathy Bondy, who still owns the French Hen, and made a connection with former The Hen chef Grant Vespasian, now with Family & Children’s Services.
“We go to the French Hen, and Kathy comes here all the time now,” Timothy said. “We also hired Grant as a kitchen consultant, and he will be making seasonal changes on the menu.
“We are keeping some of the signature dishes like tomato bisque, deviled eggs and fried chicken ($10 on Mondays), plus we are bringing back some old favorites and adding some new items. We’ve lightened up the menu quite a bit for summer.”
We recently went by for a weeknight dinner. It was a typical, pleasant Brookside setting, including a young man and his dog sharing a fried chicken dinner on the sidewalk patio just before the rains came.
We started with an old standby — sherry dill tomato bisque ($6) — as well as zucchini-and-smoked salmon fritters ($10).
The bisque had chunks of tomato and a tomatoey flavor, and our server (and as it turned out bar and catering manager) Shannon Robertson split the order into two bowls so we easily could share.
The five golf ball-sized fritters had a distinct smoky flavor, and the avocado-corn relish gave the dish a bit of a Southwestern slant.
For our entrees, we ordered the pan-seared halibut ($38) and braised short ribs ($24).
The halibut was exquisite. It had been pan-seared on one side so it was crispy on the outside and flaky and moist inside. It went well with the charred corn risotto and grilled asparagus, though the fat ends of the asparagus were fibrous and chewy, something not unique to Bin 35.
I know the short ribs are not exactly a summer dish, and they aren’t a particularly sexy or expensive cut of meat (notice how many times you see them on wine dinner menus), but I was in the mood for some beef.
It turned out to be a large serving, slow-cooked until it was extremely tender and flavorful, and topped with a light rosemary gastrique (sauce) and thin, fried onion strings. It also came with mashed potatoes and spicy, chili-glazed sliced carrots.
The dinner also included sliced sourdough bread with garlic-herb butter.
Some diners will be interested to know that many items on the menu are gluten-free.
Bin 35 Bistro has a separate lunch menu that features a variety of soups, salads, appetizers, sandwiches and entrees, ranging from $6-$18.
Bin 35 Bistro has full bar service, including a lengthy list of mostly high-end wines.
The cozy dining room has large, retro, French-themed posters, an ornate chandelier, fresh flowers on the tables and a glassed-in wine cellar with “35” etched in the glass.
“It’s very nice, but it’s not exactly us,” Timothy said. “We are going to be remodeling soon with new carpet, new bar top, different lighting. And we should have our new exterior signage up very soon.”
Bin 35 Bistro is located in the center of The Consortium, and though it has a Peoria Avenue address, it faces 35th Street.