Since opening a few years ago in downtown Bethlehem, Corked Bar, Grill & Nightclub has gone through some changes. As you can see just from the name, it is no longer just offering up modern American fare. You can have Sunday brunch, an intimate dinner, bar food while watching the game or stop in to enjoy a fun night out on the town. Not having been there since Corked evolved into a one-stop shop for food, drinks and a good time, I went to see if the kitchen still served up the delicious food I remembered.
The Thursday evening we went was fairly busy. It was a beautiful night, so of course there were many people enjoying the outdoor dining. My guest and I sat in the front dining room where the floor to ceiling windows had been opened up so we could enjoy the summer breeze. If you’ve been to Corked before, the interior is more or less the same with modern decor and soft lighting. Many large flatscreen televisions have popped up throughout the restaurant–perfect for game nights.
I started off my meal with an extra dirty martini and my guest ordered a Lemon Drop Mule ($9), which was delicious and refreshing. Unfortunately, we weren’t made aware that happy hour prices were only applied if you were sitting outside or at the bar or lounge.
Deciding on what to have for dinner was a bit of a challenge. Corked has focused more on its bar and nightclub now, and the menu reflects this. It’s overwhelming, and somewhat confusing. It’s almost like the menu is having an identity crisis. Listed under the Tuna Tartare are Loaded Fries with cheese sauce and bacon. Throughout the entire menu you sense this constant battle between bar food and fine dining. We decided to try a bit of both to see if the kitchen could truly do it all.
We started the meal off with the Bacon Scallops with dijon horseradish and bacon jam ($16). The scallops were seared and cooked perfectly. Unfortunately, I was having a hard time understanding the “jam” element of the dish. It seems as though the plate may have sat underneath a heat lamp too long, causing the jam to separate and leaving us with bacon bits on scattered on top of scallops with a sweet sauce underneath. Nevertheless, it was still fairly tasty.
Dinner was a true combination of casual and fine dining cuisine. I had the Corked Caesar Salad with romaine lettuce, grilled crouton, shaved Pecorino and white anchovy Caesar dressing ($9) and my guest ordered the Wedge salad with iceberg lettuce, bacon, blue cheese, red onion, tomatoes and blue cheese dressing ($9) as his first course. The bacon was cooked perfectly, and the dressing tasted homemade. For his main course he had the Bourbon Short Rib Brick Oven Pizza ($14) with onion frites, mozzarella and bourbon glaze. Any good flavor the pizza had was unfortunately masked by a lack of sauce, too much crust and congealed cheese.
Now for the modern American fare. I was already craving red meat before I arrived at Corked, so for my main meal the obvious choice was the 6 oz Filet Mignon with roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables ($27). Sadly, the filet did not satisfy my craving. Though it was cooked to the perfect medium-rare temperature, it was dry and flavorless. My potatoes were cold and I found a piece of ziti mixed in with my vegetables. I asked for new potatoes, but it was very obvious the hot potatoes I got back were just the old ones that were dropped in the fryer.
The meal was flawed, with only a few high notes that were drowned out by many errors. This is a shame, since meals I had at Corked before the changes were excellent. It’s still worth checking out, though. Service was good and there are many dishes on the menu that sound delicious and would be worth a try. And if you’re ever in the mood for a night out downtown, the atmosphere at Corked is perfect.
IF YOU GO:
Address: 515 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018
Restaurant Hours: Open daily, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Corked Lounge Hours: Friday-Saturday, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
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Kristina Gonzalez is a lifelong Lehigh Valley resident who works in the publishing industry. She enjoys dining out regularly and trying new restaurants in the area. Do you have a local restaurant review suggestion for Kristina? Please email it to email@example.com.