Chef Lee, who was the best asset of Cedar Lake Cellars in Wright City recently made the move to this beautifully renovated establishment. Formerly a catfish restaurant, known as Hatfield and McCoy’s, Cork and Barrel has a much different ambience than its predecessor. And—thanks to Chef Lee—has a much improved menu!
After attempting a visit there last Friday, finding no available parking and hour-and-a-half waiting time, we decided to push off our experience to another time. That time presented itself this Sunday afternoon. It might have been the unseasonable February temperature of 71 degrees and the allure of the patio—with wine barrel tables and heat lamps— at C&B that led us to give it a try, or it could have been just that curiosity was killing me at this point.
We started out on the patio, but the breeze off of Mexico Road was too much competition for the fading sunshine, so we opted for a table near the bar inside. The wait staff was extremely eager to please and accommodating as we not only changed seats but wine choices. Wine note: Chloe Pinot Noir over A to Z Pinot Noir!
My husband and I are both big fans of chicken, so I ordered the Pesto Grilled Chicken served on a bed of rice and asparagus. My spouse chose the Chicken Carbonara. Fresh field green salad and house made beer bread muffins accompany any entrée. Salad featured leafy greens, splash of diced tomato, onion, and teeny bit of cheese. The Tuscan dressing was the perfect partner for it. There was just the slightest hint of smoky flavor that catapulted it to number one for me.
Although I prefer a restaurant with lots of dark corners and walls to create a personal and private experience, the open seating of C&B was not horrible. However, it was a Sunday afternoon, so it was difficult to gauge the noise level of a busy evening. We did, on the other hand, end up next to a group of twelve, which included a screaming child. I doubt any amount of acoustical materials could have quieted that sobering sound. The interior finishes feature lots of rough-hewn wood, fascinating light fixtures, and a stained, sealed concrete floor. I'm told there are 210 wine barrels within the restaurant. Could they be a part of the unique paneling, light fixtures, or bar front?
The Pesto Grilled Chicken did not disappoint. The meat was moist and full of wood-grilled flavor-- no doubt the result of the Big Green Egg cooker they utilize. I’m pretty sure they injected my rice with crack, because I could not stop eating it! The asparagus—even though overly large—was extremely tender and flavorful. My husband’s Chicken Carbonara was not as impressive. Although it featured the same grilled chicken, the pasta in cream sauce was lacking in substance and in flavor. He said he would not order it again, but would really like to try something else on the menu—like the bison burger or meatloaf. I’m looking forward to sampling their Sunday Brunch!
Unfortunately, I ate all my food before I could take a picture of it. For pictures, check out their website. Every Tuesday they post the food items that will be on the Sunday Brunch buffet. Don’t get caught without a reservation on a weekend night, like I did! Be sure to call ahead, so you can thoroughly enjoy this new mouth-watering treasure in St. Peters! http://corkandbarrel.com