By Marc Bona, Northeast Ohio Media Group
on April 16, 2015 at 8:00 AM, updated April 16, 2015 at 8:25 AM

CLEVELAND, Ohio – To categorize Bin 216 is difficult. Is it a vibrant Happy Hour spot on bustling Euclid Avenue? Is it a place to grab a bite after you park before you catch a show at Playhouse Square? Is it a late-night stop for a glass of wine and snack?

It’s all of the above.

The restaurant shuns long, slow-cooked meals, relying instead on an extensive wine list and well-made assorted nibblers. This is smart, with many patrons keeping an eye on the clock for show times.

Snacks and small plates dominate the menu, with fresh spins on standards – Nachos and Deviled Eggs ($4), to name two.

A cheese board ($13) bursts with varying textures and flavors: Humboldt Fog goat cheese, creamy Brie and Beemster cheeses were drastically different and enjoyable as a beginner.

The Maine Lobster Nachos ($15.50) are piled high on – of all things – won tons. An incredibly tasty but very messy treat, as the won tons tend to get soggy very quickly beneath the lemon aioli.

Raclette Fondue ($13) is made for a date night, a shared plate with generous sweet and salty offerings. Spear pieces of pork belly, fingerling potatoes, bread and pear slices, and dip into the melted, cheesy goodness.

Grilled to perfection, the Craft Sliders and Fresh Frites ($8.50) with bacon aioli offer meat lovers a hearty but not overwhelming bite.

And while desserts might not be atop your culinary priority list when you are trying to make a show, leave time for these: Bananas Foster ($7), with a carmelized glaze, satisfied, but the cute star of the show was Milk & Cookies ($7), with tiny bottles, paper straws and large, warm chocolate-chip cookies. One is plenty; the other is a treat you find in a purse or pocket on the way home.

With a feel of a long, elegant restaurant of the 1920s, Bin 216 offers tiny touches, like an umbrella stand in the lobby. Happy hour, by the way, is not relegated to the weekend; it’s five nights a week with jazz on Wednesdays.

More than two dozen wines are poured by the glass, and the range is impressive. The list includes four sparklers, a pair of roses and half a dozen dessert wines. More impressive is the organization by body (“Delicate Whites,” for instance) instead of relying on the usual varietal or geography.

Minor drawbacks: When the crush of happy hour or pre-show patrons lets up – which happens suddenly and furiously – the wait staff relaxes, sometimes to the point of being a bit too casual around the bar. But it doesn’t mar the experience.

Also, the beer specials listed on the menu were outdated on subsequent visits 10 days apart. If you are going to rotate taps too quickly to update your printed menu, list “seasonal” as the permanent offerings rather than having beers you don’t carry.

Location alone makes Bin 216 a convenient pre-show stop. Quality of food and drink will keep you coming back.

Taste Bites

Bin 216

Where: 1515 Euclid Ave., Cleveland (Playhouse Square).

Contact: 216-860-0530.


Hours: 4-11 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; Noon-11 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Prices: No food items over $16.

Reservations: Not taken.

Credit cards: All major.

Cuisine: “Whimsical small plates.”

Accessibility: Good, with room between tables.

Grade: ***