“It may sound like you’re going to the doctor,” first-time restaurateur Ashlen Gianforcaro quips about her year-old gastropub, Cork and Rye. Hardly a newbie to food and hospitality, the Johnson & Wales MBA alumna spent nearly two decades in the biz, including a stint at Michelin-starred Madera in Menlo Park, California. At Cork and Rye, she brings passion, creativity, and discernment to her winning combination of “elevated bar food,” drink, and ambience – and once you have a taste, you might find it’s just what the doctor ordered.
My nephew Raymond, a talented chef, joined me for a gastronomical adventure at Cork and Rye one afternoon. “You don’t notice you’re in the parking lot,” he said, referring to the restaurant’s location outside the Warwick Mall. I agreed. We were immersed in the earthy, light-filled pub – copper bar top, wood floors, chambered ceilings – and lulled by soft reggae, savoring scrumptious shared plates. Care and attention to detail is evident in preparation, presentation, and decor. It’s a comfortable vibe. I enjoyed looking at the food as much as eating it. And Ashlen has trained staff to anticipate need so you’re not waving madly to replace a dropped napkin. A good restaurant should transport you. We were impressed.
Chef Ryan Escudé’s gluten-free bacon balsamic deviled eggs were creative and flavorful. A chilled hard-boiled egg, refilled with yolk blended with mayo, onion, and parsley, striped with balsamic glaze, sprinkled with paprika, and topped with a crisp square of bacon made me kind of giddy. I haven’t been this excited about food in a while. Or maybe it was the Gin Tin Tin, a signature cocktail of Damrak Gin, Italicus and pear liqueur, cinnamon, lemon juice, hopped grapefruit bitters, grapefruit soda, and finished with an edible orchid.
Flavor and texture contrasts made for a satisfying lunch: Velvety Buffalo Chicken Dip had a vinegary tang and mouthful of heat tempered by sharp cheddar, cream cheese, and tender pulled chicken; seasonal Crab Cake Sliders with spicy tartar were warm and crunchy outside, lumpy, soft, and flavorful inside; Braised Beef Disco Fries – au Poivre, melt-in-your-mouth beef cheeks, scallion, and hand-cut potatoes – made me want to slip on a polyester jumpsuit and platform shoes and do a happy dance.
On the lighter side, try the rare slices of Seared Sesame Ahi Tuna – sesame seeds, cucumber wasabi, arugula, and ponzu, a Japanese citrus sauce. Or slurp some chilled Charlestown oysters with merlot mignonette from the raw bar. Buck-a-shuck: Monday through Thursday, 4-7pm; Saturday and Sunday 12-3pm. You can also purchase discount movie tickets to nearby Showcase Cinemas for $9.25 when you order a shared plate or entree.
Oh yeah, and did I mention the gastropub also offers an extensive wine list (Cork), a fine selection of 62 brown spirits (Rye), a broad selection of beers, and several gluten-free menu choices? So, go ahead, make those New Year’s resolutions and be sure to include a visit to Cork and Rye – it’s one resolution you won’t want to break!
255 Lambert Lind Highway, Warwick • 921-8324