Recommendations can be a dangerous thing. Our expectations are inevitably raised, and when a restaurant, attraction, or destination doesn’t deliver, we are more disappointed than if we discovered the place on our own. Fully aware of the risks involved, when I was in Washington DC recently I decided to follow up on a recommendation. Heading out for a night on the town, I had a piece of paper in my pocket that read: Cork Wine Bar.
Rave reviews in many publications, including the New York Times, elevated my expectations of this local wine bar. After battling the traffic to arrive in Washington DC, I thought there was no better time to give Cork a try then my first night in town.
It was a rainy Friday evening around 10pm when I pulled open the door at Cork Wine Bar. The evening at this neighborhood spot seemed to be winding down, but despite the late arrival we were greeted with a smile and brought to an intimate table for two. Instead of casting annoyed glances at us for our tardiness, we felt welcomed into the warm space. So far, Cork was off to a good start.
This wine bar offers over 50 wines by the glass and countless bottles. A refined menu of large and small plates to share ranged from cheese and charcuterie to black sea bass. While we were glancing over the menu, we got chatting with the next table, who had a few recommendations. Our waitress helped us navigate the lengthy wine list to decide on a bottle that would match our choices and with the pop of the cork, I felt more like a DC local then a tourist on her first day in town.
The plates at Cork Wine Bar hit your table the moment they’re ready in the kitchen. Pan roast quail with wild rice, pine nuts, celery leaf salad and a pomegranate glaze was a delicious start. I took the advice of several food writers who recommended the french fries tossed with parsley, garlic, and lemon, but the successful wild card of the night was a pan-crisped brioche sandwich of prosciutto, fontina, and sunny-side up egg. This sandwich single-handedly disproves the idea that eggs are an enemy of wine.
When we were finished with these plates, I was craving some cheese to accompany the rest of our wine. Although the kitchen was closed, our waitress soon appeared with a small selection of cheese to complete our meal. As the last of the red wine was poured, we once again got chatting with the next table. After discussing the food, wine, and service, we discovered that throughout our meal, the owners of Cork Wine Bar, Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts, had been sitting right next to us.
This warm couple has created a lovely space that is the perfect finish to a day spent touring Washington DC. After all the walking, crowds, museums, and traffic of our nation’s capital, sitting back in a cozy table at Cork Wine Bar was exactly the neighborhood experience I wanted. My great expectations were met, and exceeded, by this wine bar.
To read more about my trip to Washington DC, check out my recent article for Luxury Travel Magazine.