Thursday night Linda and I had reservations at Cork Restaurant
in Westmont. Westmont is a small “wet” oasis situated between dry Haddonfield and Collingswood. Due to the success of the many upscale restaurants that adorn the streets of Collingswood, several new and exciting restaurants have popped up along Haddon Avenue in Westmont, offering diners the option to have a drink along with their meals. Cork is the best amongst them.
Several South Jersey restaurants were participating in the “Off The Hook” 4 day promotion where local restaurants featured a four course local seafood dinner for only $30. Since Linda and I are seafood lovers, how could we resist such a deal?
Cork is not very large, with a small dining area of tables, booths, and a few recessed booths. Beyond the dining area on the right is a small bar and on the left a separate room for private parties and busy night spill over seating. A beautiful cabinet full of wine bottles takes up a quarter wall.
Linda was running late but they sat me at the table anyway, which I was glad they did. I ordered a ketel one dirty martini with blue cheese olives. It was good — not great — but good. Linda arrived shortly thereafter and I let her order for both of us, in which she took great delight.
Linda started with the Sustainable Seafood Salad which was a nice mixture of romaine chiffonade, calamari, shrimp, and mussels in a light herb dressing. I had the Billi Bi which was a saffron infused French mussell soup. The salad was excellent but it paled in comparison to the unbelievable taste sensation that was the soup. The soup was rich and velvety, yet not thick, with a buttery saffron taste. It reminded me slightly of oyster stew but way beyond anything I’ve ever eaten. I gave Linda a taste and practically had to wrench it out of her hands to get it back. We agreed that the soup was not only the best part of the meal that night but possibly the best thing we have tasted in years
Linda had the Cape May Salt Oysters with minced pork black bean sauce. The plate only included two but she shared one with me. The salty oysters complented the light sauce and made me wish there were more than just two. I had the Barnegat Light Scallop Wellington which was a local wild mushroom and scallop in a puff pastry with a wasabi edamame puree. This was another outstanding dish which tasted exactly what beef wellington would taste like with scallops in it. We both agreed that this was our second favorite dish.
For the third course, Linda had the Blackened Catfish with jalepeno cheddar grits and collard greens. The catfish was nicely blackened and cooked to perfection. I’ve had the grits and greens before so I already knew how wonderful they tasted. Linda admitted that it was the first time in her life that collard greens ever tasted good to her.
I had the Grilled Rainbow Trout with herb roasted fingerling potatoes and haricot verts in a kalamata olive infused olive oil. I am a big fan of trout and this one, served herad to tail, was also cooked to perfection. Crispy and tender, the infused olive oil added the right additional flavor. I was in heaven.
For desert Linda had the “Tuna Sashimi” which consisted of a raspberry pate de fruit shaped like sashimi with a pistachio mint paste replacing wasabi and jelled orange marmalade-like slices for ginger. It was very clever and the only thing missing was the chop sticks. Unfortunately, it looked a lot better than it tasted but we sure did get a kick out of the presentation.
I had the “Oyster Pearls” tapioca pudding. Rather than being a normal thick pudding, this pudding was more soupy–but not in a bad way. Rich and velvety with a pearl-sized tapiocas, it was a delightful end to what was an extraordinary meal.
Our server, whose name slips me now, was wonderful. Friendly and attentive, she was on-the-ball yet not overbearing. I believe because I was taking pictures of the meal, we were visited by the Restaurant Manager, and then the Chef, and finally the owner. It was nice to have them visit and helped make our meal seem even more special. I told them that I would be blogging about the meal and that my daughter and her boyfriend would be coming in on Monday for her 29th birthday dinner.
Don’t let the $30 special menu fool you. Their regular menu is moderately priced as well with appetizers like light and crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls ($6.50) and my personal favorite, Peking Duck Flatbread with a hoisin barbeque sauce ($12). They have fabulous solo pizzas with crisp crusts that range from $10 – $12 and main courses like Grilled Atlantic Salmon ($19), Bison Meatloaf ($20), Grilled 12 oz Rib Eye Steak ($22), and a Seafood Potpie chock full of scallops, shrimp, clams, mussels, and salmon ($23). The have an extensive wine list (bottles are half price on mondays) as well as a large selection of draft and bottled beers. Speciality drink and martini prices range from $8.50 – $9.00.
If you’re looking for fine dining and the charm of Collingswood but want to drink and don’t want to pay exorbatant prices, then Cork is your place. Cork
is located at 90 Haddon Avenue in Westmont. For reservations call 856-833-9800 or vist opentable.com.