Fourteenth Street’s favorite wine bar, Cork, launched brunch about a month ago, and I’ve been dying to try it. I could never tire of wine bars for dinner. I love dining at U Street’s Cork, Vinoteca, 1905, Bar Pilar, and Dickson’s. If there’s wine, cheese, olives, and small plates, count me in. But, would Cork hold up for brunch?
This past Sunday, my oldest friend (she’s known me since I was three months old, and still likes me, wow!), Anna, was visiting the District. We braved the sporadic downpours and scrambled up the street to Cork, where we settled in upstairs next to a window.
The ambiance was perfect for a lazy, dreary-eyed gray Sunday. “The space was nice for a rainy day—cozy and private,” Anna says. “On a sunny day, it would feel a bit dark and secluded but for a rainy Sunday morning it was nice. I think we were lucky that it wasn’t too busy—the area we were sitting would have felt a bit crowded had it been seated.”
Having spent the previous evening giggling over strong cocktails at DC’s new comedy club, Riot Act, the first order of business was water and coffee, which happens to be extremely strong at Cork.
The brunch menu, like the dinner menu, is served small-plates style, allowing you to try lots of options—and had plenty of delicious choices.
Right away we ordered the cinnamon rolls and the avocado dish, my staple at dinner. The avocado comes thinly sliced on grilled French bread, topped with olive oil, sea salt and pistachios. It’s a very simple dish, when you think about it, but the fresh ingredients and strong flavors come together to form something truly special.
The cinnamon rolls, two of them, arrived next in a cast iron dish. “The cinnamon rolls were hot and the right mix between chewy and gooey,” says Anna. Additionally, they were not overly sweet, which means they were yummy without exacerbating my headache.
I chose the coddled egg, which came served in a little dish, and was prepared with leeks, wilted arugula, lemon thyme cream, and rock shrimp. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but when it arrived I was not so pleased. The plan for the dish is to put the runny egg on to the accompanying grilled bread and enjoy it. I did not—it was all egg and no arugula, shrimp, cream, etc. As someone who doesn’t typically like her poached eggs runny, I was clearly feeling a bit too adventurous when I ordered the dish.
Anna ordered the baked egg in Parmesan crust, with wild mushrooms, asparagus, goat cheese, and Gruyere cheese, which she kindly split with me. She says, “The dish left something to be desired. I liked the combination of ingredients but it was a bit bland. Personally, I prefer the quiche style egg beaten into the mix so that I don’t have to avoid the yolk pieces.” Meanwhile, I really enjoyed it, but perhaps because I was comparing it to the coddled egg.
Anna and I found the service to be mediocre. She says, “There was nothing to complain about, but I thought the staff left a bit to be desired in terms of friendliness and excitement about the restaurant and menu. It didn’t add—or take away—anything to the experience in my opinion.”
The Bitches say: B+. Anna sums it up, saying, “Overall, I thought it was a tasty meal at a reasonable price. I would go again to experience the avocado toast and cinnamon rolls—as well to check out some other items on the menu.
1720 14th St. N.W.