Cork 'N Fork
186 Avenue A
City: New York, NY
Phone: (646) 707-0707
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Cuisine: Tapas/Small Plates
2nd Cuisine: Wine Bars
Area: East Village
Cork and Fork is such a great, in the 'hood spot it made me wish I lived around the corner. This is a Happy Hour to take note of; inexpensive wines and a great red Sangria (also a white); $1 oysters and clams shucked before your eyes and all manner of small plates.
The potatas brava, cooked cubes of tuber in a somewhat spicy sauce were outstanding as were the mac and cheese balls, the grilled asparagus and sort of a Spanish take on arancini with spinach and cheese as part of the deeply satisfying inside. We moved on to the involtini, eggplant with mozzarella and ricotta cheeses and various spices, here served as a flat piece (usually I've seen this as a roll); among the best Brussels sprouts I ever ate-- deeply caramelized and finished with wine-- and blistered Shishito peppers that you pick up by the stem and eat or dip first in a sea salt mixture for extra tang.
The surroundings are attractive with wine bottles that stick out behind the bar back lit for extra drama and more bottles at an angle to provide demarcation between areas at the high tables. There are also regular height tables for those who prefer more ordinary seating. As the evening comes on, the lights go down and the crowd fills in but even with all the seats taken the noise level is bearable. Cork and Fork is very informal filled with people who live nearby, staff from nearby hospitals chowing down in their scrubs and a happy group of people enjoying well-thought through food. Service is pleasant efficient and totally lacking in attitude, always welcome.
The guys at the next table started with wonderful looking oysters and then were packing in various cheeses that looked delicious. According to the menu, some are French, others Spanish and all served at the correct temperature alongside good bread. There are also selections of "cold cuts" meaning prosciutto, mortadella and butifarra, described as a juicy pork sausage as well as several other varieties. We drank wine by the glass but bottles are available as are several beers both on draft and bottled. Weekends bring two kinds of brunch, one featuring tapas, the other "regular" meaning eggs and such.
This is a restaurant any neighborhood would be happy to have in it. Food is original, nicely presented and well-prepared; prices are very reasonable and the vibe has energy and satisfaction laced through it. If it were a bullfight, I'd award both ears.
Review By: Mari Gold