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Jan 30, 2008 07:19 AM

Cork Wine Bar

Was anybody able to make it to Cork's grand opening last night? I was wondering if anybody had any reports or opinions on the new spot.

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  1. I did!!! And it was fantastic....

    We called at 5:45 to put our name on the list, and when we arrived at 6:15 we were seated immediately. (Cork has a policy similar to Hank's Oyster Bar, where you can call 30 minutes in advance to your arrival to put your name on the list if there is one!). And that was quite lucky, because within about 30 minutes the restaurant had filled up completely, and there wasn't even space at the bar, or even space to stand anywhere. It was *packed*.

    To start, the wine list is amazing! They were featuring FIVE different specially put together flights of wine for the evening (one sparkling, two white, and two red), in addition to their complete listings of wines by the glass (and there are many). The wines (both glasses and bottles) are very Euro-centric. I first tried a flight of sparkling wines, with three half-glasses of a Cava, Prosecco, and one I am blanking on. All delicious, although I enjoyed the Cava the most. My two friends tried the flights of Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. All of the flights were about $10 to $12, which I found to be very fair, especially with their pretty generous pours. We later tried three different regular glasses of wine ($6 - $9 all of them), and they also were a very decent pour, and equally delicious. I tried the $6 glass of "Borsao" (?), which was a Spanish blend, heavy on tempranillo, and quite liked it. (Trying the $6 glass b/c I figured that if this becomes a regular neighborhood haunt, I might like to try their least expensive one right away for budgetary reasons. :o) )

    As for food, the menu is composed of hot and cold small plates that they reccommend you share with the table. We started with a cheese plate (3 for $10, and then I forget the price breakdowns for larger amounts). And, the options were all delicious. Since there were 3 of us, we each picked one, and we had a Manchego, some Spanish Goat cheese, and a Grayson (my choice). There were probably about 15-20 different cheese choices, making it delightfully difficult to choose! We got three decent sized slices of each of the three cheeses (about two inches, by one inch for each slice? maybe a bit more?), and the cheese was accompanied by homemade sweet and spicy mixed nuts, and a tempranillo reduction around the edges. We also had an order of Proscuitto ($6 and again, you could get combos of more meats for different prices, but I can't remember!). It was a pretty large portion and had a side of lightly dressed arugula, with a bowl of very nice and strong mustard and some cornichons. Oh, and there was some sort of yummy homemade crusty bread on the table to start off and eat with all this.

    Next, we ordered some Frites ($5), which came with homemade ketchup! A decent sized order, the frites were seasoned with parsley, very well fried, and were not too-thick, but not pencil thin, either. Good, but not on the same level as Poste, although the homemade ketchup did add something. Next, we had an order of the Exotic Mushroom Duxelle, which was good, but not great. I think next time I would try the regular sauteed Wild Mushroom dish ($7-$8 for either).... Our last order was a delicious Chicken breast (brined, i asked b/c it was so juicy), that came on a bed of sauteed spinach (I believe), olives, preserved lemons, and prunes, in tarragon au jus ($13). Absolutely fantastic. Order it. In all, we each paid about $40, including tip for all of this.

    For the rest of the menu, I want to say there are about 12 or so warm dishes, and maybe about the same (a few less cold dishes). There was a potato-leek gratin that I was dying to try, and sauteed sunchokes, as well. I also remember there was definitely a shrimp, beef, lamb, and scallop dish, but don't remember details. As for cold items, there were some yummy looking salads, and veggies, but, again, for our "cold" entrees, we stuck to the cheese and charcuterie, so I didn't really pay as much attention to that.

    Also, as for the building, there is quite a bit more space than I thought there would be from walking by. There is the front area, with about 8-10 tables, and the bar, which is nice and curvy, and then you go back, and there is a half-raised platform area with more tables (not sure how many), and then you go back even more, and there are the bathrooms (very very clean, I mean, even in the middle of such a busy period, they had just emptied the trash), and even more tables, before you get to the semi-open kitchen. Decor, can't seem to recall, but was a very cozy feel. Actually, we were seated right by the door in the front window, which worried me at first, but I wasn't cold at all. They smartly put heating units right by the door, to counteract that problem.

    In all, I really liked Cork, and it is definitely someplace I plan on going back to. Often. Especially as it is right up the street. Were there some issues? Sure. It took awhile to get our single glasses of wine once we finished the flights, but, to be fair, this was also when there was no standing room even in the aisles and center of the rooms. I mean, the place was insanely busy, and I really didn't hold that against them since I am sure once it has been open awhile (and is not opening night!) that will calm down some. Our waiter was very kind about it, and we actually had multiple people helping us. But, on the other hand, even though they were soooo busy, they never ONCE rushed us. We were there for two hours, and not once was there any attempt to hurry us along to get someone else into our table. Which is rare to find in many places. Also, they kept apologizing for how long food was taking, but I honestly didn't feel there was any long delay at all. All the servers were very friendly, and knew a lot about the wine and what to pair it with. Impressive.

    Great food and wine, not overly expensive or with inflated prices. Good service. Nice homey-place. I really liked it. In fact, I debated writing about the place b/c I am afraid that it will become too popular for me to go to as often and as easily as I'd like! And then I realized that was not nice... Oops. So go! And I cannot wait to hear more opinions on it.

    1. and wow... i didn't realize this was that long... sorry!

      1 Reply
      1. re: food.fiend

        No...Thanks for the long report I really enjoyed reading it. I am going to try to go tonight and am looking forward to trying it. Thanks again!

      2. Thanks for the heads up about the list before arrival! Just walked by there on the way home and it was completely packed.

        1. Was just perusing Cork's website, and they linked to this topic...

          1. How difficult do you think it is to get in on a Tues or Weds night after work (around 6 or 7pm)? I was thinking about meeting up with a friend there but all I hear is "It's very good, very small, and very hard to get into"

            I checked out the menu for the first time and was instantly drooling over their brioche, fontina, prosciutto, and egg sandwich. Is it as good as it sounds? Any other can't miss items?

            7 Replies
            1. re: Elyssa

              I shouldn't think it would be too difficult. First, because they do accept "pre-theatre" reservations up until 6:30 pm, and second, because even if you cannot make that, you can call 30 minutes in advance to put your name on the list. So, easy if you go early!

              Besides the above recommendations, the Trout Salad is fantastic, as is the Steak. Oh, and the potato and leek gratin. I unfortunately haven't tried the sandwich, though it sounds delicious. I have heard that the chicken liver bruschetta is great, but haven't been with adventurous enough eaters that they would share it yet! :o) Also, there is apparently a new rabbit dish on the menu that is good as well. For dessert, I really enjoyed the Grapefruit financier for something lighter, but still sweet. AND they have a yummy pot of dark, thick hot chocolate to share. They say it's enough for two, but I have shared it with three and it was fine.
              I am now wanting to go back tonight... oh dear...

              1. re: food.fiend

                Yes the potato leek gratin looked excellent! I'm really into leeks lately.

                1. re: food.fiend

                  Also, is this some place you would generally recommend to go with a dining partner(s) or is it some place I can go to by myself with out feeling weird having a few small plates and reading a book? Since it's not that far from my apartment, I could easily pop in by myself one day after work. But I wasn't sure if its a place that you could really dine alone.

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    Elyssa, I was there at 5 p.m. on a Sunday and we were there for 3 hours and it never really got to the point where you'd feel awkward dining solo. It was pretty empty the first hour or so. Now, I've heard on other nights that it's a different story, but if I went again, I'd totally pick that timeframe (perfect after a Studio Theater matinee). Kitchen doesn't open till 530 FYI.

                    1. re: bylinemjf

                      Agreed, Sundays are definitely slower and the restaurant feels more like a neighborhood joint, then an uber-popular "Place to Be." Also, if you do make reservations early, or call ahead, you could just ask to not be in the front room. That is where it gets loudest and there is the crowd hanging around the bar. The back two rooms (still small and quite cute and cozy) are quieter and would be nicer if it is on a busier night!

                      1. re: food.fiend

                        I was there a few weeks ago on a Tuesday - I got there right around 5:40 or so (our reservation (a tasting, which was fabulous!) was for 6) and you could have easily gotten in at that time. By 6:30 it was getting pretty busy. It was packed when we left (around 9 or so).

                    2. re: Elyssa

                      I've been meaning to check it out and it's close to my apt too. We should go together!