By sheer default, we wound up last week at Forks & Corks, the Osman Rodas casual place in Terrabella, a most interesting housing development in Covington. Our daughter jokes that at night this place seems like a movie set, but this evening it certainly appeared filled with people. It would follow that a restaurant located within the development would remain busy. It hasn’t, which validates my own feelings about Forks & Corks. Sometimes I am underwhelmed, sometimes happy, always puzzled.
We went for lunch on a beautiful day, and sat at one of the tables in front of the building. It was the outside dining that lured me, definitely not the menu. Forks & Corks does not change the menu much, and its only consistency is its inconsistency. I don’t like going to a restaurant where I have to stare at the menu a while to figure out what I could make myself get.
There was a shrimp, andouille and corn bisque that day that sounded appealing. It came to the table and I was disappointed on sight. In my opinion, a soup should not be brown unless it is a gumbo, turtle soup, or onion soup.
Chowders should be lighter in color, and bisques certainly, as well as creamy vegetable soups. Shrimp and lobster soups should have a hint of pink.
This chowder was a nondescript brown, which made it interesting to me. I liked the flavor well enough, and there was enough stuff in it, but the boring brown color was off-putting.
There was also onion soup on the menu, which was described as five onion soup. This was appropriately very dark and studded with a lot of caramelized onions, as well as some fried crisps of onion. Sitting in the middle of this onion soup was a bread island with a slice of cheese on it. This was not melted or toasted. It turned out to be half a bun that was nowhere near properly toasted, and cheese that was not melted. As one who never wastes anything, I was quite okay with the reuse of a bun, but for heaven’s sake, disguise it a little!
Tom immediately settled on the brisket, which I had here a few dinners ago. I liked that meal so well we went back shortly after and had a really bad one, and that was a year ago.
One of the things that frightened me away from Forks & Corks the last time was the dreadful french fries. These were again all over the menu, and I was wary until Chef Robert Vasquez explained that they were doing them differently.
Indeed they were. The fries that came to the table this day were crisp, clearly housecut, perfectly golden, and seasoned with a blend that was exceptional. The chef, who hails from Arizona where his family owned a Sonoran Mexiacan restaurant, explained that the spice blend includes corn husks that are roasted and then mortared into a salt and mixed with chili powders. These are great fries.
They were served atop a single fresh-cut onion ring. The onion rings here are house cut, thickly-battered and sliced to one-inch thickness. Not usually my thing but these were great. Big crunch, golden brown, soft on the inside, and well-seasoned.
Tom’s sandwich included three well-smoked and then seared slices of brisket that were tender and very good. The brioche bun was nicely toasted with an ample amount of mostly purple cabbage slaw, which had a dark hue suggesting an Asian dressing. Happily, it was not. It had a spicy seasoning as well. Combined with the pickles it was a tasty bite of food. The side was a large pile of those thick onion rings.
It took me a little longer to decide what I wanted to eat. There was a fish fry plate because after all, it was Friday. I went with a crab and Brie grilled cheese, which came nicely presented as a big skewer through four large quarters of a sandwich of sourdough, loaded with Brie and some crab meat. I was skeptical of this at first but it got better with each bite.
As we were finishing up Chef Vasquez mentioned his Taco Tuesdays, where street tacos are served alongside the regular menu.
We went back for tacos. It was another beautiful evening and we sat outside, watching the assembling of the tacos. A large smoker was behind the work table, and the menu offered chicken, pork, or steak tacos. We got two of each, except just one for the steak, which turned out to be the outstanding item.
We started with chips, salsa, and guacamole. The chips were clearly house fried, and flour instead of corn. They were crunchy and thick, and maybe a tad too dark, but they were greaseless and they worked well as scoopers.
Honestly, the salsa seemed like a supermarket salsa in a jar. And the guacamole was dark on top, green underneath. Really unappealing. All of this was a la carte.
The tacos were another matter. Served in flour tortillas rather than corn (which surprised me), the chicken was pulled, as was the pork. Both had a great flavor and were served with only chopped white onion and cilantro. And lime. The steak was tender and far superior to the other two choices.
The black beans that were served in a styrofoam cup were so thick a spoon would have stood up. It was almost a solid mass. But the flavor was excellent. The rice was also really simple, and really good. Reminded me a little of Cajun jambalaya, but it was just rice and had a chili powder and cumin flavor.
All of this was very good, but it seemed a little expensive. Taco Tuesdays almost always features $2 tacos, and these were $4 each. The bill was $44, which included chips and salsa, but only if you asked.
This Taco Tuesdays gimmick is fun, but pretty busy, especially for a tucked away neighborhood. Terrabella, is about as far away as you can get to a street corner in Mexico. And maybe the food is not as good as it is there, but it’ll do.