A cozier spot for wine and dinner

Denise Trowbridge, For The Columbus Dispatch
More than 150 wines are offered at Cork Wine and Dine, 4782 Morse Rd. on the Northeast Side, with bottles filling one wall of the renovated space. The place is designed to appeal to female customers.

February 18, 2014

The people behind the Wine Bistro are testing a new style of restaurant for wine lovers.

Cork Wine and Dine opened at 4782 Morse Rd. in October. Although it is still heavily wine-centered, it's much smaller and cozier than Wine Bistros.

Cork "is a small-cafe concept, and it's designed to fit into areas where we can't open a Wine Bistro," said Cork general manager Scott Irish.

Cork occupies a diminutive 1,200 square feet; most Wine Bistros are many times that size.

"That is the benefit of our smaller design," Irish said. "If it goes well, and we expand, it will be easier to find space. We can be an infill restaurant."

The size is the big difference. The audience is not.

Cork is designed for the "same demographic as the Wine Bistro," Irish said. That skews heavily toward female customers, as "a great place for date night or girls' night out."

Although Cork is the sister restaurant to the Wine Bistro, its menu is, for the most part, distinct.

"The menu is designed to have something for everyone and to have items that are shareable - but also bigger, heartier options, too," Irish said. "Everything is made in-house. We have fresh soup every day, and quite a few small plates."

The restaurant has more than 150 wines available and offers a $5-per-glass happy hour on weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. Cork has a full liquor license and a limited bar, but it sells primarily wine and beer.

Cork is in what was once the Tava Turkish Grill. The space received a makeover before opening, which included adding a wall housing wine bottles and plenty of plush seating.

Tim Rollins, president of Metropolitan Partners, the restaurant group that owns Cork and the Wine Bistro, had a hand in the interior design. The result is a "European-cafe feel," Irish said.

Cork seats 35 people at about seven tables and five at the bar.

As for the location, "We thought the intersection of Morse and Hamilton (roads) would be an excellent place to try out the new concept," Irish said. "There is tons of traffic going through, there are weekend shoppers, and there is foot traffic.

"We believed it would be an ideal location and, so far, the reception has been very good. It's working out as planned. In fact, we got busier a little quicker than what we had planned for."

There is no word yet on whether the owners plan to open more Cork locations.

Cork is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Off the menu

• The Front Street Bar and Grill will open on Wednesday in the former Frezno Bar and Grill space at 460 S. Front St. in the Brewery District.

• The Worthington Inn is offering a four-course dinner and beer tasting featuring beers from Rockmill Brewery in Lancaster at 7 p.m. Thursday. The cost is $65 per person. For reservations or more information, call 614-885-2600.

• Westie's Gastropub has opened at 940 S. Front St. in the Brewery District. The place is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 614-674-6143.

Dispatch restaurant columnist Denise Trowbridge can be reached at onrestaurants@dispatch.com.