Ben Thanh 500 Fairway Road South Kitchener, ON N2C 1X3…
Fork and Cork Grill
1458 Weber Street East
Kitchener, ON N2A 2Y5
Filling sharing meal for two with glasses of wine: $70
There’s a bar area, a private room and a patio tucked around the back and away from busy Weber Street. The dining room is a large, open space — in re-designing the restaurant, they lifted the roof of the building to create that openness, but it could use a few strategically placed architectural elements to break the space down a bit. On one visit, the table was mercilessly chilly — but the staff very pleasantly and promptly found warmer climes, indicating that they were struggling that day with circulation.
Along with a few other restaurants in the area, including a popular beer purveyor, the restaurant’s setting in the Kingsdale neighbourhood makes it a destination venue, but it has the food chops to make it a destination. London-native chef Eric Neaves and sous chef Mike Magda, who has worked the stoves at a number of region restaurants, along with their crew, put out some good work that’s fresh, inventive and technically well executed.
Pizzas are thinner crust and come from a nice big oven with high temperatures that does the job quite well. Margherita is well-prepared classic. Smoke and spice pizza is quite nice with the only flaw a bit of difficulty in extricating the long-length salumi off of it — if not cleanly incised, it flaps on your chin. Delicious, nevertheless.
Crispy pigs’ ears are a pure delight of texture and saltiness that are tinctured with the right amount of spice and honey for an excellent taste balance, as are warm-marinated olives — both snack plates clock in at $5.
Sharing items in general run the gamut from terrines and tacos to wings and boards. Smoked potted trout is quite good (could have used more pickles; then again, I could have asked). The duck poutine is richer than rich with a hugely deep-flavoured jus and squidgy (in a good “squeaky” way) cheese curds. Dry chicken wings do the job with terrific crisp and and lots of meat, though I couldn’t detect beer marination (But who cares? That’s why you have beer in a pint). These dishes are between $10-$12. At $18, the charcuterie board is ample and the pretzel bun, on this visit, especially good.
Ravioli doppi is a double-stuffed wonder of pea puree and goat cheese and a marvel of engineering (it’s $16 and probably the only one like it in the region). Pork chop is sweet and meaty and goes very well with crispy potato cake and parsnip puree. Dinner entrees range from $21 to $26. They have a 8-ounce clodhammer steak on the menu, an off-cut that you should try for a re-set on what your beef protein-perspective can be.
A number of good Ontario wines (a 6-ounce pour is about $7) and craft beers, as well as a “12-minute and $12” express lunch special are available. Fork and Cork has just introduced a Sunday family pig roast too. There are generally several other events and themes that happen — check their website for details.
From Kozlik’s, Soiled Reputation, St. Clements Poultry to Monforte Dairy, Blackview Farms and many others, big kudos to Fork and Cork, too, for listing their local farmers and suppliers on their website and menus. That helps build a good food community.