May 12, 2009 by MrBlueSkies
Yesterday was my 49th birthday. Heather asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I requested really good outside trashcans, iTunes gift card, and dinner at
Cork Restaurant in Westmont, NJ. To my delight, I received everything I asked for and the best part was having dinner at Cork with Heather and Aaron.
Cork is our favorite restaurant. Heather and Aaron are there all the time and I go quite regularly myself. We are amazed that we live so close to such a top-notch restaurant. Philly, and it’s array of wonderful dining establishments, is just 10 minutes from our home and Cork can stand up there with the best of them, without the hassles of bridge tolls and parking…
Chef Sae An has created quite an exciting dining experience full of textures and flavors that delight the senses and intrigue your palate. From the extensive wine list and beer selections to side dishes like jalapeno cheddar grits and entrees like Bison Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and goat cheese creamed kale (one of Aaron’s favorite meals), everything is presented with stylish subtly.
I’ve had the pleasure to talk with Chef An several times. He even sat with us at the bar during Cinco de Mayo, sharing a few drinks and chatting with us as we closed the place. (Bartender Cindy is a mixologist extraordinaire and a sweetie-pie to boot.) We had a great time talking about his family’s dry cleaning business, casinos, and his upcoming trip to Los Angeles. (He returned in time to cook my birthday dinner and tell us about his trip.) Chef An is an amazing talent in the kitchen yet I challenge you to find a more down-to-earth, friendly, and all around nice guy.
Well I think it’s time to tell you about the meal before I risk sounding like a 12 year old schoolgirl with her first crush. Too late. Anyway, Heather wanted to go all out and boy, did we ever. The first treat of the night was discovering that our favorite waitress, Marissa, would be serving us. Marissa is one of those rare servers who is genuinely friendly, knows the food and drink, and always provides the right amount of attention. Heather and I have both waited on tables and we know the difference between “I actually like you” and “I’m nice to you because your in my station and I want you to tip me well.” Thank you, Marissa, for making my birthday that much more special
We started off with Ginger Mint Lemonades consisting of Absolut Citron, house-made ginger syrup, h20, lemon, and mint leaves. Zesty and refreshing, this original Cork cocktail (featured in the 2006 Food & Wine Cocktails) made for a perfect start to the evening.
We also ordered two appetizers, Beef Short Ribs and Beef Negimaki. The braised-to-utter-tenderness ribs are served upon a bed of Jalapeno Cheddar Grits and have been a longtime favorite of Heather and Aaron. Heather insisted we order the Beef Negimaki which was featured during Cork’s recent Wine Tasting event. Beef Negimaki is 4 asparagus spears wrapped in Beef Tenderloin that has been marinated in Chef An’s homemade soy sauce and then seared in a hot pan. Chef An stopped by the table and informed us that the Beef Negimaki recipe is up for the South Jersey’s Top Chef Award over at South Jersey Magazine. To check it out and vote for this truly amazing appetizer, click here.
Rather than describe everything we had, take a look at the images below. I don’t have pictures of every dish because my camera was giving me a hard time as the evening progressed and refused to work for a short period when the main meal was served. I was able to snap a picture of my surf & turf before the camera died and it sort of resurrected itself when the deserts came out. Please forgive my shaky hand on some of the pictures as I had inadvertently turned off the anti-shake feature on my camera.
Heather ordered the NY Strip entree which was the exact same meal as mine sans the lobster. Both steaks were cooked to perfection and the roasted potato salad added the right touch of summer to the dish. Aaron ordered the Chicken Waterzooi, a fork tender braised chicken breast with diced root vegetables in a Belgian beer cream reduction. Almost boarding on soup-like, we had to request a spoon in order to stop Aaron from picking up the bowl to drink down the sauce. It was that good.
Considering the quality of food and the high level of service, Cork’s menu prices are pretty reasonable. Appetizers range from $6.50 to $13.00 and entrees start at $17.00 (for the Pasta Cavatelli) and up. So stop wasting your time traveling to Philadelphia, fighting the crowds and paying exorbortent prices for parking. Stay in NJ and enjoy haute cuisine at it’s finest right at Cork Restaurant in Westmont.