I love Tin Bins! Love it. My wise younger sister has been recommending this brand new under the radar spot all summer and I am issuing a full apology to her here. I'm very sorry I wasted two disappointing dining experiences at the nearby Dock Cafe this summer for family get-togethers instead of lobbying with her to try this place. Tin Bins crushed the Dock Cafe for me. This is my new riverside Stillwater go-to place. I later found out Tin Bins is actually owned by Sherri Hopfe and Mike McGuire, the owners of the Dock Cafe... so... awkward.
Tin Bins has seating for 40ish(?) people inside and a large outside patio that looks to hold about the same number. Due to the cooler damp weather and a posted warning of bees (and one of our family members being especially allergic to said bees) our group elected for an inside table. Seating is set up at counters or at tables for two or four, so that posed a small challenge for our group of five adults and two small kids. However, it was easy enough to move some chairs to the four person table, a spot just large enough for us all to squish around. It was busy when we arrived so our group secured the table and then went up in pairs to order.
Ordering is done at the counter. Large menus are displayed overheard for beverages/coffee specialty drinks and more. Other large boards show the menu items. Ordering was a little slow overall as they seemed to be still working the kinks out. One of my cousins ordered the Thai chicken salad ($10) and a cup of the butternut squash soup ($4), the other ordered the chicken quesadilla ($12.50). My sister and I each ordered one of the grilled panini's ($10.50 for a panini, chips and pickle). I tried the apple and honey toasted pecans panini with provolone and herbed cheese spread. My sister ordered 'The Cubano' (the special of the day), a pulled pork and ham panini with provolone, pickle and mustard. We each also ordered a cup of soup on the side (butternut squash and wild rice).
We had a slightly uncomfortable moment ordering when my sister ordered her cup of soup and a whole sandwich. The woman taking our orders really thought my sister should order a 1/2 sandwich instead of a whole because she was also ordering soup. I believe the helpful worker probably thought she was being nice, but even after my sister explained she was indeed very hungry and wanted a whole sandwich, the woman didn't really let it go. My sister had to basically insist on a whole sandwich with her soup. It was weird to argue for a higher priced menu item -- my sister was slightly embarrassed needing to justify her order, so that's when it got a little weird. After "sandwichgate" the ordering and service went smoothly. Items were promptly brought to the table by a cheerful staff. One staff member even brought my cousin who was nursing her baby (covered up - no worries) a glass of water. It was very sweet.
Onto the good stuff -- my apple, honey pecan, and cheese panini tasted nummy. I have one tiny critique on the menu item. Instead of warming the pecans so they melted into the cheese, the pecans were added with the cold apple slices after the sandwich was pressed, so they just fell off and I had to keep putting them back on with each bite. Also it wasn't very warm, but the flavor was good enough to make the temperature forgivable. My sister said 'The Cubano' was good but she would probably try something else next time, partly because so many of the other options looked so appealing.
My cousin with the quesadilla was happy with her generous appetizer portion. I would say the quesadilla was great for a large single meal or plenty to share as an appetizer. The sour cream, salsa, and avocado sides were a little on the small side if you were planning on sharing, so plan to ask for more if you go that route. The Thai chicken salad looked amazing and my cousin was happy with her order. The salad featured lots of veggies and a proper amount of dressing. Everyone that had soup was very happy. The chicken wild rice and the butternut squash were both choices we would all order again. Looking back I realized the menu said the soup was served with bread, but none of us were served any bread with our soup. One more of those kinks I mentioned about this new restaurant.
My previously mentioned wise sister arrived midway through the meal and ordered a s'mores dessert bar from their sizable bakery selection. You can't really go wrong with a s'mores dessert anything -- as expected, it was a hit with everyone who sampled it. We ordered various drink options, from an apple cider to a soy chai tea latte to a vanilla frappachino. A big plus for this spot is that they also offer wine, but even with it always being 5:00 somewhere, we weren't ready for wine yet on this particular lunch day. All of the beverages were delicious and the hot drinks were served in generous mugs. I love a good mug drink on a dreary day, and this delivered.
With the exception of the ordering misstep, the staff was courteous and patient as we were "those" people who sat at our table for a good two hours chatting and laughing. The environment was warm, clean and relaxing. If the sun would have been out, the patio would have been a great spot as the river view is beautiful. I will definitely be back. On my next visit, my mission will be to try one of the many delicious looking breakfast items.
Tin Bins is located at 413 East Nelson Street in downtown Stillwater. Look for the big metal grain elevator and the bright orange umbrellas out front. Parking is available on the street or in the small lot in front of the restaurant if you are lucky. If those spots are filled, there are two large nearby $3 and $5 pay lots. If you are looking for a quaint spot for breakfast, lunch or an appetizer meal, I would encourage you to visit this fun new place.
Photos via: Dena Hodnett