By Selene Raj
The Cook & The Cork is a well-known restaurant earning praise not just within the boundaries of the city but far beyond.
While attracting attention and awards from around the country, their newly added outdoor seating area, reminiscent of big city sidewalk dining, has been a well-kept local secret so far.
After opening six years ago, as an extension of Parkland Chef Catering, in business since 2007, it’s their small plates, global comfort food, and wine selection they’re famous for.
When Covid-19 hit, owners Dena and Chef Keith Blauschild chose to be one of the first businesses in the area to close their dining room on March 15, voluntarily. After exclusively serving up takeout and delivery, they were one of the last restaurants to reopen in October because they wanted to ensure a safe dining experience for all those who returned.
Dena said they immediately kicked into catering mode — switching to themed dinners for takeout, while they brainstormed ways to transform their dining area.
While their accolades, atmosphere, and tasty dishes attract patrons, their limited indoor dining left them wishing to accommodate more.
So, they revisited an old idea—renovating and repurposing an empty and unused alleyway next door and turned it into an outdoor patio dining area.
With the current increased demand for outdoor seating among restaurants, this was the motivation they needed to complete the project that was on their radar for so long.
And after several months of hard work and collaboration, their idea came to fruition, finally transforming the space into a hidden oasis.
“It‘s a really unique space—there‘s nothing like it in our area,” said Dena.
An open-aired, private alleyway between the restaurant and their neighbors, Dena said they thought about transforming it into a secret garden for years but are thrilled to finally see it happen.
Hidden behind an artistic iron gate, adorned with a grape motif, Dena said they aimed to create a transportive space—a safe, private, and happy environment.
“With the help of local artists, and our love for gardening, the patio space [finally] blossomed into a reality,” said Dena.
And, their love of gardening is apparent — with vines cascading down the natural roof, plants surrounding the tables, and an edible garden in the rear of the patio.
Miami artist, Surge helped transform the new outdoor patio with his graffiti, painting a mural of flora and fauna that the Blauschilds fell in love with.
To add ambiance and romance, they‘ve repurposed the dripping water from the AC units on the roof into a water feature that now pumps through a sculpture of Bacchus, the Greek god of wine.
While guests are dining, they can enjoy the appetizers that The Cook and The Cork are well known for, such as Fried Chicken and Waffles or Korean BBQ Spare Ribs, and classic favorites, Prime Aged New York Strip cut to order, or Tamari-Honey Glazed Short Ribs. Or they can opt for something more adventurous like the Braised Octopus with Chipotle Aioli, or “Pancake and Eggs,” which is really Osetra caviar and potato pancake.
But now, they can do it while feeling transported to a far-away place, from the comfort and safety of their neighborhood restaurant.
Dena said their garden has been compared to Wynwood, Brooklyn, Berlin, and New Orleans, and they don‘t mind those comparisons at all.
And while they welcome the praise comparing them to places around the world, they‘re glad to be in Coral Springs and serving people in the city and surrounding areas because there‘s no place like home.
The tables are spaced apart to allow for social distancing, so there‘s currently room for 22 seats during dinner service.
In addition to dinner, they also have a Japanese night planned for Tuesday, January 12, that includes street food and sake tasting.
They are still offering private event reservations and catering for small holiday gatherings, including custom charcuterie boards, carved fruit displays, and gorgeous tablescapes.
As always, Dena said they take safety and sanitation very seriously and continue to go above and beyond in implementing their Covid-19 protocols.
The Cook & The Cork is located at 9890 W Sample Road—for more information on their most updated days, hours, and how to make a reservation for dinner in their hidden oasis, visit their website.
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- Selene Raj is a writer and a Florida International University graduate. Born in Trinidad and raised in America, she completed her Master’s in Mass Communications in 2020 and has been living in Coral Springs since 2004. She is passionate about the communities she lives and works in and loves reporting and sharing stories that are as complex and meaningful as the people who live in them.
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