In our era of interactivity, one wine bar in Downtown LA is getting with the program--truly engaging guests in its food and spirits by giving them a say in its menu and tailoring its flights.
Corkbar is a friendly little neighborhood eatery/drinkery known for serving farmers market fresh California pub cuisine in a casual atmosphere. Of course wine--regional Californian--is its focal point.
Regulars keep coming back for popular signature dishes like the Corkbar Burger (with house-made pickles and roasted tomato burger sauce on a challah bread bun), and their mac and cheese (with cheddar, Monterey Jack and roasted pasilla chiles). But diners are also encouraged to weigh in what new items make it onto the menu.
Test Kitchen Tuesdays
Imagine being a restaurateur and getting to sample and then edit your chef's latest dishes. Now imagine doing that without the stress of owning a restaurant.
Enter 'Test Kitchen Tuesdays.' Every Tuesday evening, savvy diners get to sample new market-driven dishes (not yet on the menu) by Chef Aviles in appetizer portion form for just $2. They can then give their opinions on what should (or shouldn't) make it onto the menu.
These meals change on a weekly basis. In the past, guests have been privy to shrimp tacos with house-made avocado cream sauce and cherry tomatoes with garlic-braised clams and lemon crème fraîche.
Sunday Cellar Nights
Diners can get personal...with wine flights that is, on Sundays at Corkbar. From 5 p.m. until closing, the wine bar offers tailored flights from a list of featured wines; four pours for $12.
Also on Sunday Cellar Nights, Corkbar features a rotating weekly off-the menu dinner entree for $10, and co-owner Caleb Wines showcases wine from his personal collection (available to guests by the glass).
The Vibe at Corkbar
The scene is largely local; it doesn't hurt that they're housed on the ground floor of a residential building. But because of their ideal location near Staples and the LA Convention Center, the crowd can also veer into the unpredictably random as well.
If you're not a wine expert, the staff at Corkbar is happy to suggest wine/food pairings beyond the pairings on its printed menu.
Corkbar's owners--formerly in the advertising industry--are clearly smart enough to understand that--in this day and age of online forums and impersonal texting--Angelenos are hungry for familiarity and real-life community, but have gotten used to customization and opinion-sharing.
A Sampling of the Menu
- 40 by-the-glass wines
- About a dozen artisanal beers
- Curried mussels
- Pork bruschetta
- Root beer braised short ribs
- Banana bread pudding
- To-die-for chicken liver pate (regular special)
- Cheeses, from manchego to truffle tremor
- Selection of charcuterie
403 W. 12th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(Cross street: S. Grand Ave.)
Open daily from 11:30 a.m. Stays open late (2 a.m.) on weekends.