Cork and Brew, at 8 E. Franklin St. in downtown Liberty, Mo., has a bit of a split personality issue. Their M.O. is ‘a dining and drinking experience.’ Though what type of experience they offer is debatable depending on whether you’re dining, or just drinking.
On one side is a warm dimly lit room with brick walls, black and white photos, and a long welcoming concrete bar. There are stand up tables in front of that, about once a month, bump elbows with a live band, some four tops around the bar and some more intimate seating toward the back. Out the back door is a quaint patio with a few tables and some farmers market potted plant arrangements. Although the high brick walls don’t offer much of a view it is rather peaceful and if it’s a clear night, what more of a view do you need than the stars above?
On the other side is a sparse, poorly lit, warehouse of a room that seems more of an afterthought than a dining room in a neighborhood restaurant. The centerpiece of the room is, although well stocked and well meaning, a bar that looks like a tin roof propped up.
The walls are coated in a flat paint and the tables and seating arrangements are unimaginative. It seems this room is meant for the quieter dining guests, where as the other side, is intended for the chatty cocktail sippers and appetizer nibblers. Unfortunately, what you might gain in reduced noise level by sitting in the dining room, you lose in ambience and character.
At first glance the menu is enticing. They offer a center cut filet, grilled mahi, scallops and a kobe beef burger, all listed under House Specialties. For appetizers they have an olive medley with blue cheese, seared scallops, a variety of baked flatbreads, and the standard spinach artichoke dip.
At second glance, as in when they set your meal down on your table the offerings fall a little short. It seems as if Cork and Brew takes a few cost cutting measures when it comes to ingredients. For instance, if you order a Ceasar salad, you will be given a paltry side salad with warm mixed greens and ceasar dressing on the side. If you politely say, “Oh, I actually ordered a Ceasar salad,” the salad will be taken away, and then unapologetically set right back down in front of you a few minutes later.
The steaks and seafood, unfortunately, seem dry and taste like they were previously frozen, and the Coastal Mac-n-Cheese is lacking in coastalness and cheese. If you order the flat bread with ’fire roasted red peppers, garlic, fresh basil, thinly sliced mozzarella and red sauce’ you will be greeted with what seems to be a store bought pizza crust topped with red bell peppers sautéed with lots of garlic, pre-shredded mozzarella, and dried basil.
Cork and Brew does offer a good wine and drink menu. They have creative cocktails made with some house-infused vodkas and premium liquors. They list a large selection of wines by the glass, quarter bottle or bottle. They also have many bottled and draft beers.
On one hand, Cork and Brew is a great place to sit with friends, have some drinks and maybe, if need be, have a little snack. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a nice dinner with great ambience and fresh quality ingredients, Cork and Brew should not be your first choice.
Hopefully the two minds of Cork and Brew can come together and put into their dinner and dining concept, what they have put into their bar and create a harmonious ‘dining and drinking experience.’