Cornerstone BYOB & Artisanal Market, Wayne, PA – A Review

by artfuldiner on November 28, 2017

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Pennsylvania, Review, Wining and Dining

Cornerstone BYOB & Artisanal Market

1 West Avenue

Wayne, Pennsylvania

(610) 688-1888

 You would think that if there’s one thing Wayne, Pennsylvania, doesn’t need, it’s another restaurant. After all, there are 80 plus in the community proper… and God knows how many in the surrounding area. Indeed, Philadelphia’s Main Line is packed, racked and stacked with eateries of every size, shape, and gastronomic persuasion.

Cornerstone - Interior 1Fortunately, however, Cornerstone is definitely not your ordinary restaurant… Chefs Christine and Nick Kondra have put together a pretty nifty package; and the word has quickly gotten around. The couple met when both were working on Nantucket Island, MA: she as a private chef; he cooking at Straight Wharf Restaurant. They soon discovered that they shared the same passion for food, which is clearly evident in their most recent culinary endeavor. Cornerstone offers patrons an outstanding selection of seasonal & artisanal cheeses, hand-crafted charcuterie, and house-made sausages and pâtés sourced from small-batch farms and time-honored purveyors, which may be purchased to go or enjoyed on the premises.

The daily changing, seasonally-driven menu – which is simply divided into Raw (oysters), Share, Small, Large, and Sweets – presents diners with just enough choices to pique their interest without overwhelming their psyche. A four-course seasonal tasting menu, chosen by the chefs, is also available.

With regard to seating… The place is tiny; but that is part of Cornerstone’s unique charm. There are a several high top tables in the restaurant and a minimal amount of seating on the outdoor terrace, which is weather dependent and available on a first-come, first-served basis. The 14-seat chef’s counter, however, is where the action is; not only providing diners an up close and personal view of the chefs at work, but also affording the opportunity to chat with the owners about food, wine, or anything else that happens to be of mutual interest.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

As you begin your gastronomic journey, among the shareable dishes, the Chicken Liver Mousse is nothing short of extraordinary. Its texture is as smooth as silk on the palate, its assertive flavor bewitchingly addictive. Slather it lovingly on a slice of perfectly grilled rustic bread, savor its goodness… and your taste buds will be immediately smitten. Its charms are simply impossible to resist.

The small plates are also suitable for sharing; and there are several gems here that should not be missed… During one visit, for example, the Roasted Brussels Sprouts evoked a number of spirited oohs and aahs along the counter. Perfectly prepared – that is firm to the bite, as well as maintaining their verdant green coloration – they are tossed with an enticing splash of sherry vinaigrette and sprinkled with bits of salumi (Italian cold cuts). The Seasonal Cavatelli is another must have. This is house-made ricotta pasta awash with tomato confit, fresh basil, and Bio-Hombre Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio. Bio-Hombre is the first certified organic Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in Italy; and also the first to be imported into the United States in 3 ages. Stravecchio, deeply textured and intensely flavorful, is their top of the line, aged an average of 36 months.

Cornerstone - Heirloom TomatoesWhile both the aforementioned items are highly recommenced, the two salads I sampled really stole the show… The first is the Local Heirloom Tomato & Stracciatella Salad. Ripe fleshy tomato slices recline on a slather of pesto, topped with dabs stracciatella di bufala – a cheese produced from Italian buffalo milk using a stretching and shredding technique – and splashed with a tangy/sweet balsamic vinegar. A relatively simple dish, but extraordinarily delicious.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

But even more delightful, in my opinion, is the salad of Local Beans & House-Made Citrus Ricotta. And, once again, a subtly beautiful presentation. The ricotta serves as a creamy pillow, crowned with a colorful combination of local beans, predominantly green and golden wax. The beans are enhanced with a hint of mint, smattering of toasted pistachios, and tossed with a combo of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and Maldon Salt (an English sea salt). The result is an eye-catching amalgam of colors, tastes, and textures.

As you move on to the large plates, activity behind the chef’s counter and diners’ anticipation both pick up noticeably. There are a number of intriguing options from which to choose – including a whole roasted free range Lancaster County chicken that serves 2-3 patrons and takes an hour to prepare – and all are worthy of consideration.

Cornerstone - Mediterranean Rock BassShould you, for example, decide to follow the seafood route, the plump & irresistible Maryland Style Crab Cakes are served up with a spicy remoulade and sautéed baby bok choy. And the Lobster Roll, a daily special served on the roll or as a salad, proved to be, according to my dining companion, utterly enchanting. My personal vote, however, would go to the Mediterranean Rock Bass (pictured). Continuously basted with canola oil, the pan seared succulent filet was presented skin-side up companioned by baby carrots, green & golden wax beans, and consummated with a bewitching green goddess dressing.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Meaty matters are also well represented… My dining companion’s superbly moist Grilled Bone-In Pork Chop was served atop a rustic corn & tomato hash; my Tri-Tip Steak – a cut from a tri-tip roast, which is a small, triangular cut from the sirloin – was teamed with an excellent sweet potato hash, mushrooms, and cipollini onions. The star of the show, however, was, without doubt, the incomparable Braised Veal Shank (pictured). Luxuriating on a sumptuous bed of Castle Valley stone ground grits spiked with organic parmesan and caressed by an intensely flavorful veal jus, this is one entrée that is worth every penny of its $34.00 price tag.

On the other hand, if you find yourself in a more casual state of mind, Cornerstone’s Farmhouse Burger should fill the bill quite nicely. The house blend of ground beef is perfectly grilled and arrives at table a precise medium rare. Garnishes include romaine lettuce, caramelized onions, a juicy slice of tomato, vintage cheddar, and a side of mixed greens. Oh… and for an additional $2.00, be sure to throw in the local fried sunny side up egg with the supporting cast. A bit messy… but it adds immensely to the fun.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Desserts, in my opinion, are worth both the additional expense ($10.00 per) and the calories. At present there are three noted on the printed menu: Nutella Cheesecake with bourbon whipped cream; Smoked Maple Bourbon Balls with honey whipped cream cheese; and a Seasonal Galette garnished with honey whipped cream… The recently sampled peach galette was excellent. My nod, though, goes to the decadent Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with vanilla ice cream (pictured), an evening special. It isn’t always available; when it is, however, be sure to give it a try.

Cornerstone - Interior 2As noted above, Cornerstone is a BYOB restaurant… But things are about to change. If all goes according to plan, in January (2018), the restaurant will complete its expansion into the adjoining building and acquire a liquor license. The new Cornerstone will feature a more formal dining room and a full service bar. The owners have noted that patrons may still BYOB for a small corkage fee… They have also promised to maintain the charming 14-seat chef’s counter, which is the center of activity and chief drawing card of this intimate little establishment.

The quarters may become more spacious… but I’m certain the magic will remain. Highly recommended on all counts.

 Bon Appétit!


{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: