The Jefferson Park space, already weathered amid recycled woods of all stripes (pine, cedar, hickory), is tiny. The menus are tiny, at least at present, listing only a handful of items for both daytime & evening. But Corner House feels big—filled with light & personality, above all that of big-hearted chef Matt Selby (“Matty” to many).
Prior to the opening on 1/11, the original Steuben’s & Vesta Dipping Grill vet has pared the original list of about 40 dishes down to just a few unanimous staff favorites; he’ll gradually expand it over time, but until then you’ll be privy to such nibbles & sips as:
Sean Kelly’s roasted almonds—named for the fellow longtimer Selby calls one of his heroes, they’re tossed with olive oil, garlic, rosemary & chilies, & I couldn’t keep my grubby mitts off them—& the PCP, whereby a glass of Port-style wine from Paso Robles’ Justin Vineyards is topped with shaved prosciutto San Daniele & Manchego, which you’re invited to dip into the drink or eat separately.
A sunny little snack of kampachi (a type of yellowtail) dotted with supremes of orange & yuzu, slivered Manzanilla olives & jalapeños, & a pinch of smoked salt; this is the kind of precise arrangement that bids you include a touch of each element in every bite for the full effect, which is much bolder than the sum of its seemingly delicate parts.
The tuna-poke bowl: poke is essentially Hawaiian ceviche, here served over a small mound of sushi rice & topped with sliced avocado & a sprinkling of roasted seaweed. The flavors are clean, clear, a touch herbal & fruity—instant classic. I could eat this for breakfast on a daily basis.
Chocolate duck-egg crème brûlée. Pal Tyler Wiard of Elway’s, Selby told me, “loves duck eggs. We were talking all the dishes he’s used them in & I asked, ‘What about crème brûlée?’ He thought about it & shook his head. So I feel like I beat Tyler to the punch with this.”
As someone who craves neither chocolate nor custard, I have to confess I was crazy about it—so toasty & smooth & mellow.
Speaking of brûlee, the Clay Street Collins was distinguished for me by its garnish, a torched lemon wheel that added a ray of warmth to the blend of gin, herbal liqueur, IPA (in this case from Avery, though it may vary), & simple syrup; between the citrus, the herb-&-barley tones, & the Ball jar it was served in, it possessed a rather soothing, tea-like quality.
Though the whiskey-based Three-Oh-Three contained both chai liqueur & apple cider, it proved surprisingly light & none too sweet, illustrating bar manager Gerard Collier’s knack for the balance so key to cocktailery.
About 10 wines & microbrews round out the beverage list, along with Novo coffee drinks for the morning shift. As for the rest of the repertoire, think deceptive simplicity: a panino of curry-smoked chicken-thigh meat with Brie, pickled onion & scallion mayo; roasted squash soup with lobster & mushrooms; foie gras cured in truffle salt, drizzled in pear gastrique & accompanied by pickled cauliflower & brioche.
Culinary theatricality, in short, is not the raison d’être of Corner House; low-key, comfy conviviality matters most. It all goes back to the origin of the word restaurant—to restore. To revive. To replenish. I foresee many an hour slipping by unmarked here.