It’s always nice to walk into a new restaurant, sit down, look at the menu and feel instantly hungry. Earlier this week, my carnivorous and gorgeous wife S and I finally got around to checking out Cork, a sexy new wine bar and restaurant opened by the uber-trendy Marmalade Group. Designed by Albano Daminato, this warm, slick space is all tan wood and sleek dark surfaces. There are various seating options: booths, tables and even bar seats, arranged around a huge, tall column that rises dramatically up to the restaurant’s incredibly high ceiling.
The menu is filled with a treasure trove of comforting and hearty dishes. Some of the items from the “short orders” list that immediately jumped out at S and me were brandade of salted cod with poached egg, watercress emulsion; sauteed chicken liver on toast, radish salad; pork knuckle terrine with herb potatoes, sauce gribiche, fresh herbs; crisped pork belly with balsamic, parsnip and celeriac remoulade; and roasted bone marrow with onion and raisin marmalade, parsely salt and toast. There’s also a smaller list of “long orders”, i.e. larger dishes that you can have as a main or can share with your friends. We were really excited by the toasted ham and cheese on rye, fried egg and mornay sauce; seafood bouillabaisse; roasted grain fed chicken for 2 with fava beans, sauteed mushrooms and tarragon butter; and the garlic sage brined pork chop, sauteed apples and butternut. On the dessert list, S was immediately drawn to the eton mess, vowing to order it.
Cork also has a large and varied wine list. Customers can buy bottles at retail or for a few dollars more, they can enjoy them in the restaurant. What’s really exciting is that the restaurant also has an enomatic system that helps keep a large number of open bottles fresh. Because of this system, Cork is able to offer a pretty large range of wine-by-the-glass options, which they can rotate at their leisure. The night we visited, there were 21 wines available by the glass. Some of these were superb wines too. I was delighted to see Vega Sicilia Unico on the list and S was thrilled to spot a Puligny-Montrachet available. It is also nice that these wines can be ordered in either tasting portions or as full glasses.
photo courtesy of the Marmalade group
We pigged out a bit (as we often do the first time we try a new place). We ordered the chicken livers, the brandade, pork knuckle terrine, pork belly, and bone marrow (on hindsight, ordering the last three at the same meal was a little OTT). We had planned on ordering the toasted ham and cheese with egg but by the time we finished all of our “short orders”, we knew if we did we wouldn’t have been able to eat dessert — and we really wanted to try the desserts. The best dish of the night — and something I would return to Cork to eat weekly (if not more often) — was the chicken livers (pictured at the top of the post). Served in a small Staub cocotte, the livers were buttery soft and bursting with flavour. S and I were thrilled by how good these were. The rest of the dishes were good, but none of them came close to the livers.
For dessert, S had the eton mess that had been calling her name the whole night. I ordered the profiteroles with vanilla bean ice cream and dark chocolate sauce. I thought mine was better than hers. The eton mess, I felt, could have used a little more meringue.
Overall, our meal at Cork was really nice. The room is charming, contemporary and cool. There’s a great list of wines and the food is familiar and friendly. It’s also currently a nice place for a quiet dinner. At present, the place is packed at lunchtime; I’m told it is already a favourite with many of the bankers and business people who work in the area. But at night, it’s a tad quiet, which is perfect for that slightly secret tete-a-tete with great vino and good food.
cork cellar kitchen
168 robinson road
unit 01-08 capital tower
t 6327 9169
f 6327 9291