Downtown has become L.A.'s hotbed for new restaurants, with Corkbar as one of the latest in a series of openings.
The eco-friendly wood-paneled space with varnished table tops made from formerly forlorn pieces of reclaimed wood is set off with twinkling intimacy by the scores of well-placed candles throughout the high-ceilinged space.
The most impressive feature is the massive curved wooden bar, where you can saddle up, sit down and demand a taste of anything by the glass before committing to one of the wines on the California-only list.
A glass of wine is meant to be drunk with a snack, of course, like the trio of tapenades on toast, or the garlicky white bean puree. Several sandwiches for between $9-14, like the charcuterie sandwich on a sourdough baguette, and the grilled cheese sandwich with fontina, sherry-onion marmalade and roasted tomatoes.
The salads include an intriguing one with shredded duck and Brussels sprouts, and the main dishes all come in at under $21, even the striped bass with chorizo, corn relish and romesco sauce; and the six-hour short ribs.
Desserts are a variety of reimagined comfort foods like banana bread pudding with spiced hazelnuts and brown butter crème fraiche, and the citrus shortcake with dark chocolate panna cotta and smoked almond brittle.
Each plate also comes with a list of possible wine accompaniments in case you're not an accomplished oenophile . The wines are excellent, the menu inventive, and the atmosphere cozy.
The only thing that would make Corkbar perfect is if more than a few glasses on its wine list came in at under $10.
Address: 403 W. 12th St.
Cross Street: Grand Ave.
Phone: (213) 746-0050
Hours: Daily 11:30am-midnight
Type: Wine Bar, Small Plates