By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Then: Small plates, big flavors (2009)
Again: Rock on
A clutch of competitors flooded the dining scene in the wake of this Logan Circle pioneer, developments that sent me sipping elsewhere the past few years. A change of names in the kitchen in October lured me back to Cork Wine Bar, where former Poste chef Rob Weland took over the reins from Ron Tanaka (now at New Heights).
The replacement's touch was not immediately evident, and I felt as if I were eating at the old Cork the first few months. Hanging around on the list were avocado- and pistachio-topped toasted bread, and lemony fried squid and rock shrimp.
Flash-forward to April. Small plates still rule here, and among the fresh treatments are a zesty rabbit pate wrapped in smoked bacon, ricotta-filled gnudi that summon spring with sweet pea puree, and bruschetta slathered with a soft Spanish sheep's milk cheese and piled with a confetti of garlicky ramps and a fried pickle. Weland's terrific steak tartare shows up inside a toy-size seeded bun -- fun (and baked right there).
Less appealing: limp french fries, partially redeemed by lemon zest and smoky catsup. Hard surfaces and high ceilings are the dining room's biggest drawback, however. "Even with three people in the place," a friend mouthed across the table one night, "it's too loud."
But you have to appreciate a watering hole where you can always find at least 50 wines by the glass and where the server knows your preference for Lucian Crochet Sancerre rose months after you last admired it here.