It had been a while since I spent a Sunday (or Saturday for that matter) bopping around 14th Street near Logan Circle. My friend and I had a very mature Sunday planned starting with an early brunch followed by a play at Studio Theatre. After a failed attempt to eat at a pop-up brunch at Himitsu and approximately 17 laps around 14th Street to find a parking spot, we landed at the new Cork Market, famished and ready to dive in.
Cork Wine Bar and Market recently joined together under one roof in the former Cork Market space—the old Wine Bar location is going to be The Meatball Shop, a N.Y.-based transplant. The light-filled space is upstairs and therefore exudes a come-as-you are loft vibe. We were seated near families with babies (a mom was nursing), first dates, and us. A very eclectic bunch, which is par for the course on 14th Street.
The theater is even better with a buzz, so we opted for the citrus mimosa flight, three mimosas in grapefruit, orange, and blood orange flavors, after a hard sell from our waitress. While they photographed beautifully, unfortunately, the glasses were a bit dirty and they all seemed to taste like the same muted-citrus flavor. Disappointed, we opted for a second round of the mango mimosas which were perfectly bubbly, flavorful, and not too sweet.
The cheeseboards at Cork are classic, modest, and delicious. They are meant to be paired with Cork’s vast selection of wine. Our plate of three varietals was the perfect amount of cheese to split between two people, although we always want more. Cork allows you to select up to seven types of cheese per plate, so that was a misstep on our part. With a few accouterments like honey, raspberry jam and a cinnamon raisin bread (which was just OK) we could see ourselves ordering this dish at dinner, or during happy hour, with a nice glass of wine and a handsome date.
At the former Cork Market location, the pan-crisped brioche sandwich had been a staple on the restaurant’s menu. This crustless panini is stuffed with prosciutto, fontina cheese, and a perfectly round sunny-side up egg. It’s one of those dishes that I keep meaning to try and recreate at home, but alas their version prevails. Salty and gooey, its a great dish to share between two diners.
We were on an egg kick, as we hastily opted for the Duck Confit Benedict with crispy polenta and a poached egg. It was a damn mess of a dish, so we appreciated that it came in a bowl as opposed to a plate. The flavors were earthy and salty and the crispy texture of the polenta complimented the perfectly poached egg well.
I don’t tend to gravitate towards dessert or sweet dishes at brunch, but that Sunday the hot cinnamon sugar doughnuts were calling my name. We apparently saved the best for last because they were divine. Warm, buttery, and with just the right amount of cinnamon, these doughnuts melted in your mouth. They are a can’t-miss brunch item if you find yourself at a leisurely brunch before the theater on a Sunday.
The Bitches say: B-. While the brunch menu isn’t particularly memorable, Cork’s redeeming qualities are the cool loft vibes and convenient location. At the very least we’d like to see the mimosa flights improve. However, the doughnuts were phenomenal.
Cork Wine Bar & Market
1805 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Cork Wine Bar serves brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.