Sunday, November 7, 2010

Corkbar: Test Kitchen Tuesdays, Gougeres, and Pork Sliders

This warm and spacious downtown wine bar is designed by Ana Henton (who also designed Intelligentsia Venice), with nice touches like the hanging shelves of empty wine bottles.

Corkbar, Downtown Los Angeles

Corkbar's wine list is dedicated to California wines, and so is their beer list for the most part. The food menu changes seasonally with some mainstay items. I was invited by their PR to taste their new Fall menu, although since I have never been, I tried a lot of their somewhat permanent items.

Every Tuesday, Corkbar holds what's called TKT or Test Kitchen Tuesdays, where Chef Albert Aviles will try out and serve a new dish for just $2. Last week it was a bowl of Chile Verde, for which chef Aviles even called his mother for her recipe.
Chile Verde
Chili meets chile verde for a hearty, spicy bowl. For $2, they gave very generous portions.

One don't-miss appetizer is the Cheddar Cheese Gougeres ($7)
Cheddar Gougeres

These gougeres were addictive. They're light yet had strong cheddar flavor. It was so easy to pop two or three into our mouths.

The burger lover should give the Corkbar Burger ($12) a try. It contains lettuce, onion, tomato, house-made pickles and roasted tomato burger sauce on challah bread bun.
Corkbar Burger
This was definitely one of the better burgers in town. The challah bread (from La Brea Bakery) works wonderfully and I was loving the classic garnishes (I find lettuce and tomato more refreshing than arugula and aioli). The burger patty is a special blend made for Corkbar by a local butcher shop and it has a softer texture than most others.

Grilled Cheese ($9) with Fontina cheese, sherry onion marmalade and roasted tomatoes on sourdough bread.
Grilled Cheese at Corkbar
While a grilled cheese is a simple dish, it can be so satisfying when done well as is the case here. Another dish full of flavor.
Let's look at what's inside the grilled cheese, shall we?
Grilled Cheese at Corkbar

The Ballpark Sliders were a TKT special that ended up making it on the menu. Now even with the menu changed to the Fall menu, the ballpark sliders still remain on the board special.
Ballpark Sliders at Corkbar

This was another hit with the table. The slider consisted of pork sausage, mustard and relish on a pretzel bun. I enjoyed the crunch from the pretzel bun combined with the texture of the sausage and the relish provided a nice tartness. I may even like this better than the burger ...

Root Beer Braised Short Ribs ($16)
Root Beer Braised Shortrib

The short ribs were tender but after the bold flavors of the burger and the grilled cheese, the subtler flavors of this dish seemed lost. Also, the polenta soaks up the jus pretty readily, so you can't let this sit for long.

Banana Bread Pudding at Corkbar

For dessert: a generous portion of decadent Banana Bread Pudding ($9) with caramelized bananas, spiced hazelnuts and topped with a brown butter crème fraîche.

The bread pudding was moist but not soaked as I'm used to seeing it and seemed more a cross between bread pudding and french toast, but since I love both I loved this dessert as well.

John Kelly Fudge Truffle
As a dessert choice, you can also get a board of John Kelly truffle fudge. We only tried a piece for a taste that night. Like the meat and the bread used at Corkbar, these John Kelly chocolates are also from a local (in this case Hollywood) company.

At the end of the night, we were all very satisfied. I found the menu at Corkbar simple, no fuss, yet done well with good ingredients and for the most part provided strong flavors. With their reasonable prices, I've added one more place on my list of downtown places to go to.

403 W 12th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 746-0050
Corkbar on Urbanspoon
CorkBar in Los Angeles on Fooddigger



I freaking LOVE LOVE LOVE Corkbar.

I haven't blogged about it because I want to keep it to myself. I guess the secret is out!


Those gougeres were amaaaazing. Little puffs of heaven! Was really impressed with the entire meal really. Not too many misses!

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