Staff provide two decades of quality service at The Cork

What sets The Cork apart from other fine dining establishments? Staff from a good old vintage.

Aging can improve the quality of wines, but not all wines have aging potential. It’s actually very rare to come across a wine that matures well. So when you do come across a good old bottle, you hold onto it for a while…

Sean Gonyea
Assistant Manager Sean Gonyea

Assistant manager Sean Gonyea and staff member Bonnie are two of The Cork’s finest bottles.

Sean and Bonnie have been a part of The Cork family for 20 years, delivering quality service and helping our restaurant mature into the fine dining establishment it is today. Because these two are Cork staples, we want you to know who they are, not just what they do. So allow us to introduce… Sean and Bonnie!

Q: When did you join The Cork family, and how long have you worked with the team?

SEAN: I joined the Cork on May 8, 1997 as a backwait after coming over from Old Chicago, where I was a bar manager. My brother had worked at The Cork and recommended I go in and see if they had a position. They did, and I took it. I quickly worked my way up, and after 20 years, I’m still here.

BONNIE: I’ve worked at The Boulder Cork for over 20 years. It’s been so long that I’m not quite sure of the exact dates, but I believe it was March of 1997.

Q: What do you most enjoy about working at The Cork? 

SEAN: I have always loved the camaraderie and closeness of the staff here. While working towards a unified goal we’ve always been encouraged to be our own personality and take our own approach to achieving that common goal.

BONNIE: The Boulder Cork is a unique restaurant. I’ve worked in a lot of restaurants, from corporate to family-owned. What sets it apart from the rest is the team: Alan the owner, Donna the general manager and Jim, the head chef. They have truly made the staff and customers a family. I look forward to coming into work everyday to spend time with my family.

Q: Do you have a personal life “mantra” or motto?

SEAN: I don’t really have a life mantra but I try to live each day as it comes, respect all creatures, face life’s challenges instead of running from them and not hold grudges.  We all have our differences and those can be just as bonding as our similarities.

BONNIE: Be kind to everyone, because each of us have a different struggle.

Q: If you had one final meal at The Cork, it would most likely be…

SEAN: Tough call. It would likely be the Baked Stuffed Shrimp appetizer, with a Boulder Cork Salad. I’m a huge fan of the scallops, especially wrapped in prosciutto, so that would probably be my entrée.

BONNIE: I rarely do a full course meal, but if it was my last meal then I’d have to have all of my favorites. Appetizer: almond-crusted brie. Salad: Boulder Cork Salad. Entrée: New York Strip with a side of peppercorn sauce and smoked mashed potatoes. Dessert: vanilla crème brûlée.

Q: Outside of work, you’re likely to find me…

SEAN: On the trails with my dog, Rollie, putzing about the house or enjoying the many fine restaurants in Boulder with my friends. My casual time also includes watching football, baseball and hockey.

BONNIE: Crafting, designing, shooting video, and taking lots of pictures.

Q: Something that guests would be surprised to know about me:

SEAN: My friend Jeff and I were pioneers of a sort in the fantasy sports world. We created a web site called Fantasy Sports Realm that was the first site to offer extensive projections in football, baseball, hockey and basketball. We had a run of 11 years before folding up in 2012. It’s now just a hobby rather than a business.

BONNIE: I have my own Etsy store where I design, print and sell calendar stickers to help keep your calendar creative while planning your day-to-day life.

Bonnie and Sean — cheers to 20 years! With your help, we have no doubt that The Cork will continue to mature like fine wine.

New Year, New You

Many of us have started the new year with a few resolutions. No matter whether they’re based on social, financial or health goals, we’re here to help you achieve them.

Social health. If one of your goals is to rekindle old friendships or improve current relationships, The Cork is a wonderful meeting spot. Whether you’re enjoying happy hour in our popular cocktail lounge, or savoring dinner in one of our cozy dining rooms, we provide you with a perfect social environment to catch up with the important people in your life.

Eating right.  One of the most common resolutions is about eating healthfully. If you’re out for a date night or you just don’t have time to cook, it can be challenging to stick to this one, but we’ve got you covered. With responsibly farmed meats, local and organic vegetables, and healthy grains, we make it easy to make healthy choices. We’re also happy to accommodate any dietary requests to help you stick to your 2017 goals.

Spending responsibly. Your resolution may be about how and where to spend money in the new year–maybe you resolve to spend less, or stick to small, local businesses like us. We’ve got lots of options that’ll help you stay within your budget, including our excellent happy hour and early bird menus. If you’re looking to save on wine, we also have reasonably-priced wines by the glass, as well as regular wine specials.

Whatever your resolution, you can count on us to help you achieve it!

Recipe: Chef Jim’s Holiday Oysters

Looking for a new family favorite? The holidays around the Smailer house wouldn’t be complete without this warm, cozy heirloom dish.

Serves 3 people

1 fennel bulb (trimmed, cored and finely diced)
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes (peeled and finely diced)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
24 oysters (any type will work well)


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a sauté pan, heat the butter and oil over medium high heat add the vegetables. Let the mixture brown on the bottom before stirring.
  3. Stir with a spatula to brown ell edges evenly. Add a little salt and a generous grind of fresh pepper.
  4. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  5. Shuck the oysters and place in the cast iron pan, being careful not to lose any of the liquid from the oysters.
  6. Top the oysters with the vegetable mixture and bake for approximately 8 minutes. The topping should be very hot and the oysters just cooked.
  7. Garnish with a fennel frond and enjoy this warming comfort dish.

Chef’s notes:
This recipe has been in the family for 30 years, and it’s perfect as a first course or side dish. I like to serve at least 8 oysters per person, and it’s imperative that it’s served immediately and very hot. It’s a nice touch to serve the oysters from the cast iron pan they were cooked in, straight from oven to table.

Chef Jim's Holiday Oyster Recipe

Holiday Parties: Making Spirits Bright

Holidays are a busy time here at the Cork. It’s fun to fall into the hustle and bustle as families celebrate annual traditions and companies celebrate with their staff. At the Cork, we take our traditions seriously, whether that means offering classic and heartwarming meals or playing host to the families who walk through our doors.

We’re proud to have been a family establishment for nearly 50 years, maintaining the excellent quality and traditions that make us a perennial favorite. Our commitment to fresh, local and high-quality food, as well as exceptional service make us a great spot to celebrate during the holidays.

Hosting a party is easy, with our private dining options and special menus. We’ll happily work with you to select the best menu, drinks and space for your budget, preferences and guests.

We have three cozy dining rooms available:

  • Small Garden Room: Able to seat up to 24 people, the Small Garden Room is perfect for smaller, more intimate gatherings of close friends and family. The Small Garden room opens up onto our patio and is shaded by our fresh herb garden, meaning you’ll have a lovely view while you eat, drink and mingle.
  • Patio Room: The Patio Room is our largest dining area, complete with a cozy fireplace and natural light. This space can hold up to 65 people alone, but when combined with the adjacent Small Garden Room, can seat up to 90.
  • Fireplace Room: If you’re looking to host a mid-size gathering, the Fireplace Room is a great option. With space for up to 40 people, the Fireplace Room is a favorite because of its homey fireplace and view of the outside patio.

Our garland-decked halls and friendly fireplaces add a special holiday feel to any get-together—we hope you’ll join us for your next soirée! For more details or pricing, please feel free to reach out by emailing us at [email protected] or calling 303-443-9505.

We Heart Artichokes


October is an especially wonderful month to be in Boulder. The air is crisp and the colorful leaves highlight the city’s year-round beauty. But at the Cork, we’re always thinking in terms of food, and October is an ideal time for foodies in town to experience the warmth and depth of fall flavors. One of our favorites is the artichoke.

The artichoke is available at the Cork all year, but in the fall, its flesh is especially tender with remarkable flavor. The mild nuttiness of the vegetable makes it incredibly versatile, holding up well to grilling, steaming and pickling. They’re also great in soups and dips, and are even used as an ingredient in Cynar, an Italian amaro.

Artichokes are a staple of our menu, served as an appetizer with clarified butter and curry mayonnaise on the side, and incorporated into various specials. The artichoke is notoriously difficult to pair with wine, which makes finding the perfect vino to accompany this veggie one of our favorite challenges.

Because of a naturally-occurring chemical in the artichoke, cynarin, everything you eat after tucking into our sumptuous starter will taste sweet. This can have a particularly noticeable effect on wine, influencing your taste buds so that the wine seems unbalanced and lacking in structure. That’s why we’re selective about the wines we pair with artichokes, favoring light-bodied, very dry wines with high acidity and no oak.

Depending on the artichoke’s preparation and accompaniments, certain wines that fit the description above may be better suited to complement the dish. For example, the strong herbal notes in plain steamed artichokes will go well with dry sauvignon blancs that feature notes of citrus and green apple. In contrast, add just a little curry mayonnaise to your bite, and a (still dry) fuller, more rounded wine like verdelho or vermentino may be a better option. In brighter dishes using raw or pickled artichokes, like Jim’s Spring Salsa Verde, we’d recommend something interesting like a fino sherry!

If you’ve been looking for an excellent fall dish and a new wine recommendation, we’ve got you covered. Come on in and join us!

50 Shades of Rosé

Rosé grapes

Fall is in the air, and when the summer heat is winding down, but it’s not yet time for a big glass of red wine by the fire, we think of one thing: rosé. On the spectrum between red and white wines, rosés are made with the same grapes as reds, but spend less time fermenting with the skins than reds do. Rosés are perfect for this time of year, offering the refreshing brightness of white wines with added depth from the skins.

Rosé wines are made from nearly every wine grape, and as rosé’s popularity grows, so do the options (we know that makes us happy). From dry to sweet, simple to complex, they can offer characteristics of red fruit, flowers, citrus or melon depending on the varietal, region and winemaking process.

So what is the process for making rosés? There are three main methods:

  • Maceration Method. In this commonly used method for producing commercial rosé, grapes are pressed and sit in their own skins to ferment for a brief time. The juice and skins are then separated before the color gets too dark. Depending on the varietal, skins are left to ferment with the wine for varying amounts of time, from as little as a few hours to days.
  • Vin Gris/Direct Press Method. Meaning “gray wine,” the vin gris method is to make a nearly white wine using red wine grapes and white winemaking processes. Vin gris uses an extremely short maceration time, resulting in rosés with a very pale hue.
  • Saigneé. Pronounced san-yay, this method is a by-product of red winemaking. During the first few hours of a red wine’s fermentation, some of the juice is “bled” off to ferment separately from the rest of the wine. This method is more common in wine regions that produce finer reds, because it not only produces a nice rosé with a typically darker hue, but leaves a higher ratio of skin contact on the un-bled juice, concentrating the red.

Whatever the method, we love rosé. We are proud to feature several on our wine lists, including favorites like our Domaine de la Roche mourvèdre blend from the Bandol region in southern France, and the classic Domaine Carneros Brut rosé. We’ve also got a number of sleek rosés from around the world available that aren’t listed on the menu. Our fresh seafood and farm fresh specials are perfect candidates to pair nicely with any of our lovely rosés—we’d love to help you find the perfect wine to complement your dinner. Never hesitate to ask!

August Farmer’s Market Fun

August is an exciting month in Colorado, with an imminent football season, and students coming back into town. But most importantly, August is a great food month.

As always, you can find the best, freshest, locally grown fruits and veggies at Boulder’s farmer’s markets. We are passionate about producing great food, and that requires great ingredients.

Throughout this month you can find Chef Jim strolling through the market, looking for great ingredients and strengthening relationships with the local farmers who produce the food you love. What will he be looking for in August? Here are just a few of the foods that are in season this month:

  • Arugula: It’s a fact: we love arugula, and for good reason. Healthy and tasty, arugula is the main component of our Boulder Cork salad, a longstanding family favorite!
  • Squash BlossomsSummer squash: Of course, fresh squash are absolutely indispensable as a side dish for an entrée. August is a fantastic time for lovers of squash, especially if you’re a fan of delectable squash blossoms.
  • Herbs: The right seasoning can absolutely make a dish, and fresh herbs make all the difference. August sees fresh basil, cilantro, rosemary, thyme and dill, among many other popular herbs.
  • Peppers: Peppers are finally ripening, which is great news for those of you that like your food with a subtle kick. And you know what this means for some of our Southwest-inspired dishes!
  • TomatoesTomatoes: It’s here: tomato season. If you’re a fan of caprese, this is the right time of year for you. Chef Jim creates a wonderful (and beautiful) caprese with lovely heirloom tomatoes from area farms, complete with fresh garden basil and the best mozzarella. Yum!
  • Sweet corn: If you like sweet corn (and we know you do), August heralds one of our favorite times of the growing season: that of sweet corn from Munson’s Farm. Sauté it, pickle it, use it in a relish, or just roast it to discover some of the delights of summer.
Munson's Sweet Corn

Of course, this is far from an exhaustive list. As we said, August is a great food month, which means it’s a great time to visit Cork for the fresh, local food you love.