Photography by John Antaki
In the full spirit of passion and collaboration, Cork and Flame is the River Region’s newest and most unique spot for fine dining, perfectly coming together under the guidance of Vineyard Wine Market’s Robert Strohl and Katerworks Chef Justin Hayes. Helping to fill the void in the Evans area, the menu pulls from many aspects of Hayes’s training and travels to create an international medley of flavor and style. After studying under award-winning and master chefs in the United States and Germany and apprenticing at French restaurants, Hayes was inspired to elevate French classics by incorporating unique flavors and innovative cooking techniques from around the world. Emphasizing seasonal and sustainably-sourced ingredients in the true spirit of progressive American cuisine, the menu at Cork and Flame rotates to offer the highest quality dishes possible.
The restaurant’s crowning glory is a stunning, open Argentinian hearth. Most of the menu is cooked over the oak or hickory wood flames with a crank that lowers or raises the grill to achieve everything from a perfect char to a smoky finish. Using renowned Brasstown beef from North Carolina and being the only place in the area serving Wagyu, they’ve quickly set themselves apart as one of the best places in the area to savor a quality steak. And there’s no need for fancy seasonings. Hayes promises a bit of salt and pepper and the perfect sear are all it needs. The pork chop is thick and hearty and the brick-pressed chicken cooked beautifully. My personal favorite will always be any part of the rotating selection of seafood, including fish, Nigerian prawns, lobster, and diver scallops. Always inventive, the menu also features singular meats like ostrich, game sausage, water buffalo, and lamb – Hayes’s current favorite. Many dishes come with grilled baguette; greens, vegetables, and fruits are grilled for unique side dishes and salads, including this summer’s hearth-dried pineapple salad.
The creativity of the dishes allows for a versatile menu format as well. There are a number of entrees and small plates that can be ordered separately, noteworthy nightly specials, and a tapas menu that’s available at the bar and in the wine shop next door during wine tastings. With a 72-hour notice, a four-course tasting menu and eight-course chef’s table experience can be paired with wine for the ultimate special occasion. The chic environment, specialty disheware made by Augusta’s own Hickman Pottery, and the distinctive cuisine make Cork and Flame the place to eat in the River Region. Whether it’s a weeknight date, dinner party, or a corporate event, you’ll discover the consummate dining experience at Cork and Flame.
The most recent addition to the Cork and Flame family is Mixologist Derrick Bass. Though native to Augusta, he recently moved back to the area after 14 years and most recently an eight-year stint in Los Angeles. Starting as a bartender over a decade ago and climbing his way up, Bass has worked with big names like Butcher’s Daughter and Wolfgang Puck as their catering beverage director. He is currently collaborating with DRNXMYTH, an up-and-coming cocktail concept making it easier to get a craft cocktail created by today’s cutting-edge bartenders. A huge advocate of the concept of “garden to glass” and using fresh, seasonal roots, herbs and fruits, Bass is also working to create his own line of tinctures, which can help infuse fresh flavor into a drink when ingredients aren’t readily available.
Crafting cocktails with substance and flair, Bass draws on experience and a myriad of flavors to create a unique drink menu for Cork and Flame. With a touch of his Southern roots balanced with innovation and style, each drink is unique to the restaurant. The 49’er is crafted with house-made ginger-lemon tincture, Smoke with in-house smoked honey, and the C&F Sour is finished off with a Bonarda Float from the Algodon Estates Winery in Argentina, associated with and sold at the Cork and Flame Wine Market next door (formerly Vineyard Wine Market).
3/4 oz lemon
3/4 oz honey
1.5 oz Four Roses Bourbon
Full dropper ginger tincture
Garnished with fresh thyme
Combine all ingredients
Strain over ice
Garnish with slapped thyme
Any dessert is bound to be yummy but there’s just something special about pie. It is reminiscent of holidays, family and good memories. There are endless options and flavors, savory and sweet, hot and cold. Everyone has his or her personal favorites and preferences and most everyone loves it – especially when it’s homemade.
Every pie at The Pie Hole is made from scratch. Owner and baking mastermind Colleen Hall started off trying to improve the food she prepared for her large family by using less processed ingredients and more whole foods. Breads and wheat-based products were the hardest to find so she decided to just make them herself, going so far as to buy and mill her own wheat. Soon she was using her flour in all sorts of recipes, especially pie, and giving it to co-workers, neighbors and friends. She had found a new passion and everyone was reaping the benefits. With lots of encouragement and support from her family, Hall jumped in head first with the Augusta Market early in 2017. Between the success at the market and the realization that this was something she could do with her family and kids, she knew she was right where she was supposed to be. Soon she was ready to take the next step and, having seen the concept of pie bakeries in larger cities like Atlanta, she wanted to open the first here in Augusta.
Tucked into an adorable corner of The Augusta Exchange, The Pie Hole opened at the beginning of August with a small staff of enthusiastic family and friends and Hall at the helm. Family constructed and decorated the bakery to bring a charming coffee-shop feel. Buona Caffe created a special blend to perfectly pair with everything from sweet and savory pies to cinnamon rolls and specialty cakes. Everything is made with flour milled in-house, including their classic True Bread and its variations, including five-seed and grain. Ingredients like eggs and fruit are sourced locally whenever possible, and it’s clear that care and love are in every aspect of the process.
The pies themselves are absolutely gorgeous – in addition to scrumptious – and as guilt-free as pie can get. They’ve made it easy to take home; most pies can be picked up “hot and ready” or “take and bake.” Savory creations like the chicken pot pie make a weeknight meal a breeze, and you can save hours of holiday prep by ordering classics like pumpkin, apple, or their particularly popular peanut butter pie. If you’re dining in, The Pie Hole is perfect for a family outing or a date with personal-sized pies (available in 10-inch and five-inch) and a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. The shop is a traditional bakery; flavors may rotate based on what is available seasonally or when they’ve sold out of a variety. We recommend calling ahead if you’re looking for a specific pie. Otherwise, stop by, grab a coffee and a slice, and make yourself at home.
The Pie Hole is already taking holiday orders. Whether you’re looking for gifts for business partners, need a dessert for a dinner party, or are looking to take some stress out of a big family get-together, they’ve got you covered. Place Thanksgiving orders by November 15 and Christmas orders by December 19.
Article appears in the November/December 2018 issue of Augusta Magazine.