Cafe Bink

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36899 N. Tom Darlington, Carefree Court Shopping Center
Carefree, 480-488-9796

For five years now, Binkley's Restaurant has been one of the best in the state for an over-the-top dining experience, garnering raves from local and national critics alike. But now there's a way to get Binkley's luxe fare at considerably lower prices, and the way is Cafe Bink, a narrow little bistro offering French-inspired dishes ranging from $10-$25. The lunch menu offers plenty of apps, salads and sandwiches, making it possible to get in and out for $15 or $20 bucks. But good luck with that. The menu is so very tempting: coarse country pâté, pistachio-studded and served with coarse grain mustard, cornichons and pickled pearl onions; velvety parsnip soup, the sunchokes, dates and carrot chips at the bottom of the bowl lending color and texture. Wild and baby arugula salad, tossed in Champagne vinaigrette with crispy pancetta, charred red onion and Parmesan is absoluely first-rate. Don't miss it. Meanwhile, even sandwiches are amazing. Imagine Cuban-style pork on crusty Parisian bread with house-made dill pickle, Dijon and melted Gruyere, or ultra-moist corned beef on a kaiser roll, melting in brown sugar mustard and sweet, mellow slaw. Even the chicken sandwich (layered with pancetta, caramelized onion and Fontina) and the white cheddar grilled cheese on buttery challah are terrific. From the evening menu, try roasted shrimp over grits, bathed in Mornay sauce, or a crunchy topped casserole of pork cassoulet. Cafe Bink's french fries, served with three dipping sauces, are hands-down the best in town. And if you can, save room for classic chocolate mousse or sublime strawberry shortcake. Lunch and dinner, Tu-Su. $$-$$$

With its handsome bar, rich colors and comfy banquettes, it's tempting to stay inside -- especially when the temperatures are scorching. But in good weather, Bink's shade sail-covered patio overlooking Black Mountain is the best place to be.