Perhaps known as a major flavour of the French classic…
Eric Neaves and his business partners are ready to roll out the Fork and Cork Grill, located at 1458 Weber Street East at Kinzie Avenue in Kitchener.
Neaves, 30, a London, Ont., native and graduate of the Stratford Chefs School, brings both his formal training and his most recent experiences from Toronto’s Buca restaurant, Marben and The Only on King, London, to Kitchener’s east end.
Accompanying that background, he says, is a philosophy of using local ingredients, nose-to-tail preparations, and a casual and approachable menu.
“Accessibility on the menu is what we are striving for,” said Neaves who also holds a music degree from the University of Western Ontario and is an opera singer. “We are looking to keep starters under $15 with pizzas and pastas at under $20, and entrees under $25, unless there’s that really special feature that we just have to do.”
The restaurant is fairly large: a bar area seats about 40 with a main dining room for 120. There’s a private room that can accommodate about 40 in a cocktail-style or meet-and-greet arrangement, and a covered patio for about 40.
As for libations, there are 14 Ontario beers on tap, including Innocente and Block Three and two (and soon to be four) house wines on “tap” as well (which will run $6.50-$7.50). The general wine list is 90 percent Ontario, Neaves adds.
For the time being, and until they are settled enough to prepare it themselves, Fork and Cork charcuterie will be from Niagara’s Pingue, while items such as terrines, pates and rillettes will be made in-house.
“We really want to focus on Canadian food and local farmers, including producers such as Antony John and Perth Pork Products,” Neaves says. He is striving for an evolving and changing menu that will use seasonal ingredients while they are at their best.
To start off, there’s a clod hammer steak with polenta, organic fried chicken, a falafel burger and braised duck leg.Starters include gazpacho, chicken liver mousse, a poutine and fried sweetbreads
The braised beef-stuff burger makes use of a 50-50 combination of blade and brisket cuts. The Nella Forni pizza ovens run at about 340-degrees C., and can put a nice bit of char on a thin-crust pizza in the style of the VPN pizza.
Neaves says Fork and Cork Grill is looking forward to contributing to the burgeoning food scene in the city and the region, and he’s excited to get the venture off the ground and serving customers both nearby and who will make the restaurant a destination spot.
“Where we are trying to fit into this neighbourhood is as a restaurant that’s doing exciting things with local food that’s not charging top dollar. We’re using secondary cuts, for instance, and getting the most out of every little ingredient that comes into the kitchen. You can come here and not break the bank to have a nice meal and find a good beer.”
The Fork and Cork Grill soft opening is July 13 for dinner service.
* * *