Table Talk

Metropolitan Partners pops cork on new wine concept

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Photo submitted courtesy of Cork Wine & Dine
Chef Libby Keener displays grilled peasant bread with three dipping sauces at Cork Wine & Dine, which recently opened at 4782 Morse Road.

The Wine Bistro has a scrappy little sibling.

Metropolitan Partners has opened Cork Wine & Dine, a petite and distinct version of the company's three -- soon to be four -- other stores.

"I've been playing around with this concept of a small footprint, neighborhood hangout for a while," said Tim Rollins, a partner with the Columbus-based developer that also operates a growing restaurant division.

Cork takes over less than 1,200 square feet of space, formerly Tava Turkish Grill, at 4782 Morse Road, just west of North Hamilton Road.

Rollins said the 35-seat restaurant was built for comfort, with soft lighting, wooden accents, cozy seating and racks of hand-selected bottles of wine totaling 150 labels.

Although it has a full liquor license, Cork serves only a few select craft beers and one bottle of spirituous alcohol -- locally made OYO-brand bourbon.

There's something else noticeably missing from modern competition: beer taps.

"It's just a minor component of what we sell," Rollins said. "A tap system is just bigger than what we need."

The menu, designed by executive chef Libby Keener, is different from the Wine Bistros, too, Rollins said.

Keener, a Pickerington native, completed the Columbus State Community College chef apprenticeship program and received her certification 21/2 years ago.

She has worked at Shaw's Restaurant in Lancaster, Wedgewood Country Club and NorthPointe Hotel and Conference Center.

"The main goal of the menu is you want the food to make you crave wine, not just wine to make you crave food," she said. "They go hand in hand."

There's more of an emphasis on creative small plates, such as the truffle bacon popcorn, cheddar-and-Port fondue served with bread and apple slices, and grilled peasant bread served with onion chutney, "drunken" shallot butter and roasted red pepper jam.

"We've seen a lot of tables just make a meal of the small plates," Keener said.

Entree-sized plates include chicken scaloppini, olive oil-poached salmon and baci -- four-cheese pasta purses. Flatbreads and sandwiches round out the savory side of the menu.

Prices range from $5 to $20, the latter for an 8-ounce New York strip steak.

Among the homemade desserts is a mimosa cupcake with orange-scented champagne icing and grilled lemon pound cake with pistachio anglaise.

Cork Wine & Dine is about a third of the size of the Wine Bistros located in Clintonville, Upper Arlington and on U.S. Route 23, north of Worthington, which also has a private dining area called the Reserve.

The company has a new store in the works for the Meijer Shopping Center, located at the northwest corner of Maxtown Road and North State Street in Westerville. That store, which also will have a Reserve annex, will be 6,500 square feet.

In central Ohio's not-too-distant past, wine bars with tapas menus were all the rage. Now, microbrews and bars with far-reaching craft-beer selections are the standard.

Rollins says there's room for both.

"They're different customers," he said. "A person looking for a wine assortment is looking for a different experience than someone looking for a craft-beer kind of place."

Cork is open for lunch and dinner daily. For more information, call 614-476-2675.




Beset with a naming-rights quandary a week before his restaurant was to open, Jerry Burgos has christened his new eatery Jerry's Galaxy Cafe.

The restaurant, which will offer a hodgepodge of culinary styles, will open next week at 4920 Scioto-Darby Road.

Burgos, co-founder of the original Galaxy Cafe more than 20 years ago in Powell, said he didn't bother to reserve the name.