Cornelius has it’s own farm-to-fork restaurant: the aptly named Fork.
Co-owner and Head Chef Tim Groody has been working in restaurants since he graduated from Culinary Institute of America in New York. His résumé boasts Mama Ricotta, Flatiron and Sonoma restaurants in the area. He also lived in California for many years where he honed his love for super fresh ingredients and eclectic food flair. It has always been his dream to open his own restaurant using the best local produce and meat.
On Aug. 17, the dream came true.
Groody met partner and Fork co-owner Melanie McIntosh while working at Flatiron in Davidson. He had seen the quaint, former home on Main Street when it was up for sale three years ago.
“I loved the space at that time,” Groody said. “But it just wasn’t the right time to start a restaurant.”
Meatballs on Main was most recently in the space, but it has been home to many other restaurants. Fork is set to cease that trend.
Groody and McIntosh have refurbished the space with a vintage feel: stenciled walls, colored bottle chandeliers and gleaming floors. The rooms are small, and it feels purposeful because it goes perfectly with the food.
The menu at Fork is the exact opposite of say a Cheesecake Factory, which is the size of a small phone book. It is purposefully compact to highlight the freshness and artistry of the food. The menu is printed on nice paper stock as it changes often, working with the seasons and freshest food available. Diners choose from four starters, five entrees and five vegetable options. A specials menu changes daily, if necessary, to work with whatever looks good that day or strikes the fancy of Chef Groody.
The menu features several enticing options.
The Arugula and Cameo Apple Salad has fresh greens, shaved manchego cheese, pomegranate and dried cherries. The entire salad was light and satisfying, tasting utterly fresh. To give an example of the care taken with each ingredient: take the dried cherries. Groody soaks them in Port Wine, boils them, lets them set and drains the liquid. The result is an explosion of tartness tempered with the sweet dessert wine that just makes the salad sing.
Groody works hard to amplify the flavor of the food, not cover it up.
‘“There are so many ways to enhance food naturally,” Groody said. “I try to use herbs or acid to work with the food.” The short ribs are from Gilcrest Natural Farm and are served with purple sweet potatoes with a blue cheese slaw and sunflower sprouts. An interesting pairing that totally works. The mixed vegetables look and taste as if they’ve just been picked and they have, from a local farm not far from Cornelius.
The restaurant is only open for dinner and has a full bar including an extensive wine list.
“Our next venture is to try and offer inexpensive batch wine to our customers,” Groody said.
Even the martinis and specialty drinks are farm fresh.
“Yeah, for the pumpkin martini I actually got pumpkins from the farm, roasted them and then pureed them for the drinks,” Groody said.
In the summer, the watermelon drinks were made with real puree, as well. There are also six local draft beers on tap.
The lovely restaurant will please any local foodie looking for an amazing, organic, fresh meal. Fork is bound to become Cornelius’s premier restaurant.
Fork is located at 20517 N. Main St., Cornelius, 704-655-7465.