9.02.2007

Cork Wine Bar To Replace Sparky's

Turning my decaffeinated tears into wine, Cork is set to replace the recently shuttered Sparky's on 14th Street around the end of the year.

The wine bar is the longtime dream of neighborhood residents Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts. The couple — who got hitched three months ago — searched for some time for available space in the 14th Street corridor. "We're really excited to be in our neighborhood building this," Gross told Metrocurean.

"Sparky's had really been a cornerstone of the neighborhood," says Pitts, adding that they intend to maintain the neighborhood feel.

Cork will offer about 100 wines by the bottle, focusing on Old World selections, including many organic and sustainably produced wines. As for the wine-by-the-glass list, Gross says, "I'm having trouble keeping it to 20." Glasses will range in price from $6 to $14, with most lingering at the lower end, she says. The bar will also offer wine flights.

With all the high-tech wine serving gadgets popping up around town, Pitts says they'll be pouring wines "the old fashioned way" — straight from the bottle.

The owners emphasize they want the wine program to be approachable. "We wanted to create a place where an oenophile can find something interesting, but a guy on a first date won't feel overwhelmed," says Pitts.

A preview of the menu includes chicken liver with shallot marmalade, oven-baked tomato with local chevre, wild mushroom bruschetta, mussels with parsley pesto, fries with lemon zest and parsley, and Gross' favorite, a brioche sandwich with prosciutto and fontina, with or without a fried egg on top. There will also be cheese, charcuterie and a large selection of vegetables. And wine-friendly desserts will be served late for theater-goers and late-night sweet seekers.

Construction was expected to start this weekend on the 2,000 square foot space. The renovation is in very capable hands: Cork is working with Eric Gronning, the same architect that turned the run-down Trio Pizza and Subs into a bright and airy Hank's Oyster Bar.

Plans for the space include a 15-seat bar, surrounded by banquettes and tables, and a raised level in the back offering 10 or so seats. The owners are also hoping to add a private dining room that may be used for wine tastings and wine dinners. They'll also make use of the small patio out front.

Cork will be open Tuesday and Wednesday from 5 p.m. to midnight and Thursday through Sunday, 5 p.m. until 1 a.m.

10 comments:

District Dishes said...

This is incredible!! What a fun addition to the neighborhood... although yes very sad to see Sparky's leave. thanks for the heads up

Jno said...

Can't wait! This is awesome news.

Tim said...

i really lament the loss of sparky's. i guess that's the story of retail. if you can't get by selling $4 coffee drinks, maybe you can get by selling $14 glasses of wine. as long as the rent is paid...

will there by ANY homey, city-like places on 14th street soon? i think not. that's too bad.

Amanda said...

I think we're really lucky to be getting Cork and not something else - like a starbucks. And I think the fact that the owners have lived in the neighborhood for a while will mean the place should have a certain "homeyness."

Anonymous said...

I was a Sparky's barista for a bit under its original owner, and I hear the lament about 14th street going corporate. As a wine lover who has frequently complained about the lack of wine bars in DC and the proliferation of corporate spots in the ‘hood I intend to do my best to get behind this place and put my money where my mouth is.

The opening won’t come soon enough.

Amanda said...

I agree, anon!

Anonymous said...

Great post for the wine lover! thanks!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic grand opening last night (01/29)!!

I agree that this is a great addition to the neighborhood. Last night, their first official opening night, was unbelievably busy. I think they were shocked by the number of customers that came through their door, and so were we. It is certainly indicative of the lack of wine establishments in this city.

Although happy with the number of wine bottles on their list, the vast majority of which were at the medium price range, I thought that their concept of eating mostly Mezzes/tapas (we are not talking about copious Middle-Eastern Mezzes, but rather slivers here and there) wasn't, in my humble opinion, a really a brilliant idea because when one consumes such generous amounts of wine, one needs a plentiful meal to accompany the drinks.

The wait staff was very courteous, but not overwhelming, and our waiter did not push us to consume and leave as quickly as possible.

The wines they serve are mostly French, Italian, and Spanish. None are from the new world but for one from California. They tend not to have a large selection from vintage years, but that is understandable as their market/focus seems to be the medium-priced wines.

My review: The place has the overall feel of a bistro, with a good selection of medium-priced wines (mostly French, Italian, and Spanish). It is loud. Their staff is very courteous, but needs some time/training to better understand and speak about the wines served there, and the tapas/mezzes are acceptable (small portions though), but I would rather have real meals/larger portions served (even if the food list were very short) with my wine. It is definitely better than anything I've tried on 14th Street (including P street between 14th and 17th).

Anonymous said...

I really wanted to give Cork a chance and keep an open
mind about everything, including the manager's consistent dismissive, marginalizing tone and gruff behavior. This is not JR's or Cobalt ;-)

I give Diane and Khalid credit for having a vision and executing very well to that vision. However, I do not see the value proposition of leaving hungry three times after spending about $60 each time. Exec chef Ron Tanaka: this is not Citronelle/CityZen ;-)

I left them my card if they are interested in a more detailed view of my opinion. That said, it is not on my list for an immediate return in the current format, sorry to say.

Amanda said...

Remember that their "current format" is barely a week old. And they've been mobbed. Give them a few weeks to work out the kinks.