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Corks - flavor overload

JonParker Jan 18, 2009 04:41 AM

For whatever reason I had never made it to Corks in Federal Hill before the recent remodel and menu changeover. I had heard good things but always ended up somewhere else.

Last night Courtney and I walked up Charles looking for food, and given that I had heard decent things about it we decided to hit it up. The final verdict -- this was one of the most insanely delicious meals I've had outside Grace Garden in quite some time.

Appetizer was a no-brainer -- we went with the merguez corn dog. Two corn dogs resting in a sea of parmesan laced popcorn. I'm guessing the merguez is sourced from Springfield Farm, although I wasn't able to confirm that with our very busy waiter. They'd been dipped in a light cornmeal batter and fried -- just like the ones you get at the state fair, but with a lighter coating and bite and flavor from the spiced sausage.

We usually just share one appetizer, but our waiter had handed me the foie gras menu. No way were we resisting that. We got a thick silver dollar sized piece of perfectly seared foie gras, served with cornichons and a grape must reduction. This was simple but perfect.

For an entree, such as it was, I went with the gyros -- not your usual gyros but bite size pieces of grilled lamb served on pita with an herb cucumber sauce. This was our least favorite dish of the evening -- it was quite good, but not tastebud overload like the others.

Courtney chose better, going with the BLT -- braised pork belly and tomato confit on a very light, toasty white bread. This sandwich was outstanding, and so rich that she couldn't finish it. Both sandwiches came with very good fries.

I'm not a wine guy, so we asked for a beer. Not a deep list, but a well chosen one.

Tab for two was about $60 before tip. Well worth it. I don't know how I managed to keep this place off my radar for so long despite living just a few short blocks away. It's an oversight that I was more than happy to correct.

  1. c
    chefdilettante Jan 22, 2009 10:47 AM

    We at at Corks this week, for the first time since the renovations/new menu. The back room feels more substantial now, rather than simply an afterthought. Food was well prepared and solid. But my one big complaint is that some of the restaurant's soul was lost in the reshuffling. The old wine list was distinctive; it was a terrific cross-section of contemporary winemaking, with varied styles and geography--and it was all American wines. A great selection of half bottles also distinguished it from the pack. The name of the restaurant is Corks, after all. The new wine list is boring. Lots of big, coporate-owned wineries. from US and South America. Nearly all in a monolithic, fruit-bomb style. And our server was unable to steer us one way or another despite our being very specific regarding favored varietals and styles. I hope the wine service was an anomaly but I'm afraid the wine list isn't.

    1. p
      pigtowner Jan 18, 2009 05:35 AM

      Foie gras menu? Is that an all the time thing? I've only been once since the remodel, but we didn't get one.

      9 Replies
      1. re: pigtowner
        JonParker Jan 18, 2009 06:44 AM

        It's not on the web site, and I don't know if it's a short term thing or a dinner only thing or what. They had four preparations I think, so it's obvious that some time and effort went into it.

        1. re: JonParker
          k
          KAZ Jan 18, 2009 06:48 AM

          Sounds like a great meal. Also sounds like the menu changed quite a bit since my last visit about a month ago. I don't remember the foie gras or the gyro. Do they still have the fondues?

          By the way, I like the beer list as well. Any place that offers multiple options from the Heavy Seas line get a thumbs up in my book.

          1. re: KAZ
            JonParker Jan 18, 2009 02:21 PM

            The fondues are still there, and I know Courtney is looking at them for next time. I'm not sure if I hope the foie gras menu stays in place or not -- it could be dangerous having that kind of budgetary sinkhole so close to home.

            And I did get the Heavy Seas Loose Cannon at Corks. It's my favorite of the Clipper City brews and my day to day beer. Courtney had a Belgian style from Weyerbacher in PA, but I can't remember the name of it.

            1. re: JonParker
              sistereurope Jan 18, 2009 03:41 PM

              Thanks for the feedback Jon. We went to the "old" corks once...it was good but very pricey. Your bill seems very reasonable to me, especially considering the foie gras,,,mmmmm. We'll definitely have to check it out.

              1. re: sistereurope
                JonParker Jan 19, 2009 04:16 AM

                The foie was the most expensive thing we ordered, at around $15. Everything else was very reasonable. You could spend some money there if you worked at it, especially on wine, but it's possible to have a very good dinner there for well under $20. I thought it was a great value.

                1. re: JonParker
                  h
                  hon Jan 22, 2009 10:13 AM

                  How were the beer prices?

                  1. re: hon
                    JonParker Jan 22, 2009 10:23 AM

                    $5-12, I think for premiums, probably cheaper for Natty Boh or Bud.

        2. re: pigtowner
          l
          loungelizard Jan 22, 2009 10:03 AM

          From their website under upcoming events:

          Mondays at Corks (Beginning January 12th) Foie Gras Night
          You may have to walk through picket lines to sample one of the most celebrated and reviled delicacies in the culinary world. Chefs Briggs and Pellegrino will prepare multiple preparations of Foie Gras each Monday for the unfathomable price of $7 and Chris Coker will choose a selection of wines by the glass and bottle that pairs perfectly with each preparation.

          So, it seems the Foie Gras is a Monday thing...

          1. re: loungelizard
            JonParker Jan 22, 2009 10:24 AM

            We were there on a Saturday, although we paid more than $7 for ours. If they're the same preparations though, that's a helluva deal.

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