What all the Corkbuzz is about: Review of Charlotte’s newest wine studio & menu
The first person to tell me that Corkbuzz Wine Studio was coming to Charlotte received a giant bear hug from me. It was a good thing I knew her, but I would have hugged a flyer on a telephone pole with the overwhelming joy I felt at hearing the news.
Corkbuzz in my home city, New York, was a staple destination for date night or meeting up with girlfriends. I was attempting to be slightly tepid walking into my first experience at the Charlotte location, knowing full well that many times a new restaurant branch struggles to maintain the soul of its original counterpart.
I found parking easily, but the signage after dark made locating the restaurant difficult for a first-timer; my husband and I were literally standing directly in front of it before we noticed the sign posted and eventually saw our way to the door.
Once inside, the mood turned immediately. The front of house was extremely accommodating, warm and welcoming. As we took our seats, I realized that our server, Stacey, had waited on us at Lumiere and always had memorable recommendations and a wide depth of knowledge on both the wines and dishes. Tonight would prove no different.
Stacey guided us through her recommendations and we decided to order shared plates for two. The 6 smaller plates were the perfect amount for two, though we could have ordered more if we had come with a larger appetite.
Everything was delicious – as each item arrived, my eyes feasted on the colors and plating before sampling dish after dish of sophisticated, yet simple culinary execution.
In the order of my favorite to least:
Roasted Cauliflower ($8) tossed with pecorino, shallots and lemon juice, has a balance of creamy fullness with sharp acidity that makes it addictive. The fact that vegetables are buried within all of those bold flavors makes it a highly enjoyable and nutrition-conscious addition.
Iberico D’Bellota ($20) is the thinly sliced cured meat of a Spanish pig fed solely on a diet of acorns. It is a richer, nuttier sister to prosciutto that will make your mouth water just to recall the flavors. It comes with bread, but I found myself taking off the tiniest of pieces to place on my taste buds, close my eyes, and enjoy. For anyone who has been to Spain, you’ll be immediately transported back to other memories of enjoying this delicacy.
Gougéres ($6) – All I can say of this is to imagine a little baby biscuit, exploding from the center with melting fontina and gruyere. Magical. This will be the first thing I will want to order when the weather starts to get cooler.
Crispy Pork Belly ($10) rested atop a corn purée, with pole beans and spicy pickled cucumber. The pork belly was wonderfully prepared, though there were only two small pieces perched on the larger amount of the corn, which seemed slightly sad. I was hoping that the purée would be an accompaniment, as opposed to a carrier vessel. The flavors were wonderful together, though we didn’t get through all of the creamy corn.
Mediterranean Crabcake ($13) was prepared with tomato jam, castelvetrano olive aioli and arugula. It had a spicy kick that I wasn’t expecting, but greatly appreciated. Plenty of aioli accompanied the crabcakes and were highly enjoyable.
Heirloom Tomato Salad ($10) with burrata, mint and smoked salt was the first thing on the menu that my eyes gravitated towards. It was enjoyable, but had a little room for improvement. A very small amount of the tomatoes had started to turn (it was a Monday, so I am assuming we were at the bottom of the barrel). The burrata was also much smaller than I had been looking forward to – the moment it was cut into, it seemed to disappear. The burrata ball was about the size of a pullet egg (or a Cadbury chocolate egg, for those unfamiliar), whereas I was expecting more of the diameter of a tennis ball, which usually carries cream inside, but with a thicker layer of mozzarella surrounding it. I am also confident that the plate that arrived did not have any mint as the menu suggested. Don’t get me wrong, I ate the whole thing anyway.
The wine list had a vast selection and I was pleasantly surprised at the price range ($9 -$25 for a glass, $28 – $350 per bottle), considering it was a restaurant coming from New York City where glasses of wine regularly cost upwards of $20 (thank goodness we moved). It gives you the opportunity to enjoy a wonderfully curated wine at a reasonable price or to celebrate the big occasions with a special bottle. We opted to have two glasses that Stacey recommended, for our meal on the wines by the glass list.
The Marcel Lapierre Raisins Gaulois Gamay ’14 from Beaujolais, France ($10) was delicate and dynamic with much more character and robustness than your typical Beaujolais. I loved the personality it carried along with the elegant velvet I expected from the region. The price for that kind of mouth-feel was extraordinary and a glass I will look forward to having again.
The Luli Pinot Noir ’13 from Santa Lucia Highlands, California ($14) was the favorite of the evening. Much like the Lapierre, it carried unexpected flavors for a Pinot Noir, which is what I adore about Corkbuzz. Their wines are selected with care and deliver what you are looking for in certain varietals and regions, but with a twist to make it memorable.
VERDICT: I’ll be back. At least once a week.
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