From the team behind the popular Hammocks Trading Co. in Sandy Springs, Under the Cork Tree opened in late January in the former Joli Kobe space at the Prado on Roswell Road.
Chef William Sigley, his wife, Heather Hendon-Sigley, and Hammocks business partner, Jason Sheetz, conceived the upscale casual restaurant, which features an eclectic Mediterranean-inspired menu and a selection of some 200 wines from around the world.
Sigley, whose background includes a long stint in Las Vegas, where he worked under the likes of Wolfgang Puck and Todd English, moved to Atlanta to take a job at the short-lived AquaKnox in Buckhead, then landed at Tom Catherall’s Here to Serve restaurant group before launching Hammocks in 2012 .
“We have been very successful at Hammocks, and have great regulars, and that’s a good feeling,” Sigley said one recent afternoon. “One of our mottos there is ‘underpromise and overdeliver.’ With this restaurant, we put a target on our backs a little bit, because we’re upping the ante with the food and the atmosphere and the decor.”
Abbi Williams of Atlanta’s Red Door Design Studio was in charge of transforming the former bakery cafe space, creating multiple seating areas, including a loungelike tapas bar with a wood-fired oven, a cocktail bar, a wine room, which doubles as a cozy private dining room, and a spacious patio adjoining the main dining room.
Far from the rustic charms of Hammocks, Under the Cork evokes some of the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
“I got the idea for the light fixtures and the couches from a cocktail lounge in Los Angeles called the Warwick,” Sigley said. “The wine room is sort of modeled after Spago Beverly Hills. I saw a bar with a green front and a white top at a tapas bar in Spain. And then I decided we had to have Moroccan tile. Somehow, Abbi made it all work together.”
The menu, which is still evolving, ranges from wood-fired tapas and flatbread-style pizzas, to small plates, soups and salads. Larger plates include duck tortellini, lamb shank tagine, seafood paella and entrees such as dry-aged bone-in rib-eye, crispy roast duck and oven-baked dourade.
“We wanted the menu to appeal to a range of tastes and price points, and we really wanted to keep it flexible,” Sigley said. “We’ve found that some people love the tagines and the paellas but other people just want to come in and get a pasta or a pizza and a glass of wine. Overall, wine is sort of our thing here. And a lot of people just like to hang out at the bar.”
The drinks list, which is delivered to guests on iPads, is the creation of Hendon-Sigley, who previously worked in the restaurant business in Southern California and Las Vegas.
“The wine list is global,” Hendon-Sisley said. “But it had to meet certain criteria, as far as having a very low retail presence, small case production, and be something that I knew would fit with the food here, whether it was coming from Chile or South Africa or France. Really, it’s all about the pairing.”
See more from the Under the Cork Tree menu here.