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Judging Restaurants – Cork Wine Bar

by Prince Of Petworth — June 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm 33 Comments

I can’t believe we haven’t judged Cork yet. Cork is located at 1720 14th Street, NW just south of the U Street Corridor between the Streets R and S. You can see their menu here.

Back when they first opened in early 2008 the place was regularly mobbed. So what’s the word in mid-2011?

  • LisaT

    I like Sparky’s. 🙂

    • anonymous

      +1. peregrine isn’t cutting it. at all.

  • Eli

    Had a delicious egg and homemade pancetta sandwich there on Sunday. I’ve also had the turkey sandwich and the soppressata sandwich, both of which were tasty. The banana cupcake is also fantastic. Oddly, I’ve never purchased their wine.

    • Eli

      Oops, I meant this for Cork Market. My only time at the wine bar was when they were about to close, but I will have to visit again soon.

  • Rachel

    Love, love, love. The fries, avocado bread and their ham and egg sandwich are all terrific!

    • Anonymous

      While I am not as enthusiastic about the place, I do have to endorse the avocado bread. That dish is pretty awesome.

      Overall not a bad place but some of the dishes aren’t that amazing. Also, their focus seems to be more on French wines and less on Californian ones.

      • Dan

        “Also, their focus seems to be more on French wines and less on Californian ones.”

        That’s a bad thing?

        • Anonymous

          In general, no. Just a personal preference. I am assuming the owners or managers are more familiar with French so that’s what they went with. To each his/her own.

          • Eric

            Maybe they like wine that doesnt overpower the food.

      • Anonymous

        They only do old world wines

  • JME

    It’s very good, but I do miss Sparky’s.

  • Florista

    Love it.

  • Sunsquashed

    Love the place. Great wine selections and great food. We typically refer to the sauteed mushrooms as “crack mushrooms” because they are so addictive. There are several other menu highlights, but the deconstructed goat cheesecake is the other menu item not to be missed.
    So the bad news…..
    The menu hasn’t changed in over two years! While we love many of the items on the current menu, we don’t go there as much as we used to because there is nothing new (other than the wines). It seems to me that all the effort is put into wine selections (which are amazing) while they are coasting on the same menu for far too long. On a positive note, Cork market is a great place for buying wine. It is awesome that you can taste wines at Cork, then buy them at the market.

  • erin

    LOVE the goat cheesecake!

  • LCM

    I tried to eat here on Saturday night. We asked to sit outside and were told the wait would be 1.5 hours for 2 people. Then we offered to sit inside and were told the wait would be 20-30 min and we could wait at the bar. So, we stood at the crowded bar and had a glass of wine for about 30 min, after which a manager came and let us know that the wait would be more like an hour and a half inside as well, and asked if we would like to eat our entire meal at the bar…

    We decided to leave at that point. I have a hard time imagining any food is worth a 1.5 hour wait. Also, this is not the type of meal that I am willing to eat smashed into a crowded bar.

    I guess we will have to try it on a week night!

    • Anonymous

      I have had the exact same experience. A 30 minute wait turned into 90 minutes. The owner repeatedly came over and apologized but never offered a simple free glass of wine to appease us. My roommate called 30 minutes in advance (they will take your name) and was seated five minutes after we were. This and the fact that they took rabbit off the menu are why I have never returned. They have great wine but so do many other establishments in the area.

  • Anon

    There is more competition on this strip of 14th now, but Cork still delivers and is still packed regularly. Thought they might suffer a bit when Tom left to open The Passenger, but haven’t seen any issues on the cocktail side. Food seems as good as ever. Reminds me that we haven’t been back in a couple months

  • Tulip

    Tasty, but it leaves with an empty wallet and still empty stomach.

  • Anon

    Love, love, love Cork Wine Bar. And the market. Second the avocado bread, french fries and at the market…the banana cupcakes. Yum. The owners actually live in the neighborhood and can be seen at both establishments all the time (and their baby too). So it feels more authentic and local than some of the other 14th St establishments (even those that are locally owned aren’t neighborhood residents). They are decidedly favorable of old world wine- more so at the wine bar- but I like that they have a focus that they do well. I enjoy New World wines as well, but its nice to see options that aren’t the usual Cali/Argentina/Aussie ones you see in most places.

  • John

    Love love love love. One of my favorite places in DC.

  • I was just there last week. I echo the above sentiments that the avocado bread and fries are amazing. The calamari was pretty tasty as well.

  • Soda… bread…

    We return for the Goat Cheese Cheesecake (they have it as Room 11 as well).

  • westminster

    Great vibe and a nice neighborhood spot unlike some of the new additions to 14th (El Centro, cough cough). The food has never been amazing aside from the few dishes previously mentioned, and it’s pricey; however, they do good business and as someone said before, knowing the owners are there and are committed to the community makes a difference. It would be nice to see the food evolve like the wine has, though.

  • Shaw Res

    No one else found the hostess and other staff to be incredibly rude? I have, on two occasions gone to Cork, only to be treated badly by the person you’d least want to be having a bad day — the host(ess). Food’s decent, but I’m not going back based on the very poor service.

    As for Cork Market, I was once in line, purchasing a few bottles of wine only to see the person check out in front of me, leave the store, and have the manager tell the clerk that he overcharged the person by $20 for one of the bottles. If you’re going to say something like that, at least wait until there are not customers within earshot. Needless to say, I double checked the prices with the cashier.

    • Jay

      I was overcharged there once too. (What’s up with that Cork Market?)

      I had used a credit card and I went back an hour later and they happily gave me more credit than I overpaid by.

      I’m not a wine guru and their folks have steered me wrong, but I like the place better than any other wine shop nearby.

  • Anon

    Does this place still not take reservations? That was my biggest gripe before I quit going.

  • Bloomingdale

    I used to love this place but I think it is not as up to snuff as it used to be. The fries were once awesome, but not as amazing now.

  • bob

    Went there once at 5pm with my kid, and we were treated like dirt, and they tried to shove us basically in the bathroom. I mean, I understand restaurants not wanting to be overwhelmed by kids, but it was 5, and we were basically out by 5:45. If that’s cramping the singles’ scene, then the singles are really really lame.

    Basically, that made me never want to go back when I had a babysitter. I’d rather spend my money somewhere that treats its customers better.

    Food was decent, but I honestly don’t remember it that well, so it couldn’t have been that great.

    • rabble

      it’s called happy hour, bob.

    • Anonymous

      i see the misunderstanding. it’s not a whine bar.

    • SnarkCity

      I am one of those people that advocates for bringing (well behaved) kids out to restaurants but really? a wine bar? C’mon…

  • Logan Girl

    Love this place. They have great food, but wait can be hard at times so get there early. Food is a bit pricey so keep in mind on the crowd you take for tapas. Always had enjoyable experience! I personally think the trend of tapas if only so restaurants can make more money. But always enjoy it b/c I’m not a big eater! May not be for everyone.

  • Joseph

    Place still hits all the marks for me and my girlfriend. Think being a host there is tough cause of the no reservation policy and small plates (no appetizer/entree/dessert routine). Hard to tell when someone is going to get up but hosts should never be rude. Menu still tops for me. See someone wrote that it never changes and then someone else isn’t going back because the rabbit is no longer being served. What a manager told me once was that the menu is seasonal and that 1/4 of it changes, some dishes get different presentations so you will always have a steak on the menu but different underpinnings, and some things that are popular stay on, ie. the avocado. I just heard they are starting brunch — gotta check that out once buzz dies down.


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