A neighborhood fixture since late 2009, Cork Market on 14th Street NW is well-known for extensive wine selection, delicious grab-and-go menu and gourmet pantry items, both local and imported.
Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts, longtime Borderstan residents, opened their restaurant in 2008 and expanded almost two years later into the market and tasting room across the street. By now, both of their endeavors have received well-deserved praise in local and national media. Cork may not be the neighborhood’s best-kept secret or hidden gem, but the owners have used the store’s popularity to attract new, regional vendors and serve as a resource for neighborhood residents looking for great wine and good food.
Series of Wine Dinners Begin in January
This January, Cork will be adding a series of wine dinners (at different price points) to its standard wine class offerings. Gross and Pitts will continue to focus on local-level involvement, hoping to “facilitate change” in the Logan Circle area by focusing on small business development, especially in retail and restaurants.
This type of growth promotes an “18-hour day” on 14th Street; that is, the sustainability of foot traffic and activity throughout the day — not only at night when the bars and clubs are the most popular.
More Affordable Options
For special parties and events, Gross recommends some distinctive twists on two entertaining classics, Champagne and caviar. Cork offers American caviar and also trout roe, which owner Gross calls a more “affordable option.” It’s more versatile than you think. She suggested several different applications for the bright orange balls, including a topping for toast points, bilinis and soups.
Even more quintessential for entertaining than caviar is Champagne. Cork offers a selection of Champagnes just as thoughtfully chosen as it selection of wines.
Gross’s genuine passion is evident through the market’s particular specialty — grower Champagnes. The Champagne most of us are used to drinking and buying is negociant Champagne, manufactured by large houses that buy some, if not all, of the grapes and use them to make a proprietary blend. These negociant Champagnes, most of them non-vintage, are blended to maintain a consistent, signature taste from year to year. (For more on non-vintage Champagnes and a good explanation of negociant vs. grower champagnes, read this Serious Eats article.)
As Gross explained, Cork specializes in these grower Champagnes because they “reflect the terroir of the region,” more like those we are used to appreciating in other, non-sparkling wine varietals. The market currently stocks 25 different varieties of grower Champagne — in magnums (1.5 liters) starting at $85, or 750 ml bottles (for $40) if you’re entertaining a smaller crowd.
Even if you’ve already read about it, stop by and see first-hand Cork Market and Tasting Room’s selection and stock. The helpful staff will be more than happy to answer your questions.