403 W 12th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
After a quick trip to Sacramento for a business meeting, D swept me up from the airport and we met the wonderful SKT downtown at Corkbar for happy hour. I keep meaning to go in on for Test Kitchen Tuesdays when Chef Albert Aviles tests an appetizer-sized portion of a new, market-driven dish not available on the regular menu, for only $2 (one per person, while supplies last!). Haven't made it yet, but I did finally just make it in at all.
Corkbar is gorgeous. All pale wood, smokey glass, very sleek. Loving wine bars like City Sip and Enoteca, I was expecting something more rustic. However, Corkbar is quite posh with prices to match. Nothing outrageous, but I certainly didn't find the happy hour particularly economical.
There are lots of tempting things on the menu including a spicy mac & cheese with Fontina, cheddar, asiago and roasted pasilla chiles. I must have been craving carbs because I was also tempted by the handmade gnocchi in lemon butter and romaine sauce with cherry tomatoes and ricotta salata.
Celebrating the hour of happiness with a glass of viogner, I may be somewhat jaded by restaurants' and chefs' inexpensive offerings during this economic downturn because I do not think an $8 glass of wine is that penny-wise. It was delicious, certainly. Normally it sells for $11 so we are talking about a 27.3% discount. Maybe I am becoming miserly in my old age. That would certainly be an interesting development.
We shared the white bean puree, French bread ovals topped with micro greens and truffle oil. This pleasant appie was pureed within an inch of its life, overly smooth. I like some chunks and texture to a bean puree. I would order it again, though, on a happy hour second.
These might be the best of a trend in the whole city. Cheddar cheese gougeres. These are being served everywhere, it feels like. Or maybe just also at Church & State. The gougeres at Corkbar are on the large size, uber cheesey, hot and puffy, generously portioned. I think there were 8?
We are mid-duck hunting season here in California. Corkbar is offering a beautiful duck & Brussels sprouts salad with goat cheese and frisee. I love that this salad was not only not overdressed but maybe a little underdressed. Not a huge dressing person, the flavors of the duck and cheese stood out comfortingly against the sprouts and frisee without too much acid or sweet overtaking the mix. This is a destination salad. I want it again, tonight.
The soup of the week was a Manila clam chowder, and I think I remember a couple mussels in there as well. Did not like. Way too thick, not enough clams. This shouldn't even be called a soup. It was almost pasty in texture. No.
At the bartender's suggestion, we all enjoyed generous glasses of Bokisch Grenacha. This is gorgeous. 2006, from Lodi of all places. I just don't think of Lodi when I think of wine. This wine is case-worthy.
I plan to hit Corkbar again. It's local, friendly and there were more hits than misses.