A new restaurant is moving in next door to Two James Spirits in Corktown. When it debuts next spring, Cork and Gabel will blend Irish, German, and Italian flavors on its menu, chef and co-owner Matthew McGrail tells Eater.
The eatery is currently under construction in a 4,450-square-foot space at the corner of Michigan Avenue and 16th Street. Co-owner Joe Mifsud owns the building shared by the distillery and was in the market for a partner to helm a new dining project at the site two years ago when he was introduced to McGrail.
McGrail had a broad resume of experience running both corporate restaurants such as Pei Wei Asian Diner and the food division Macy’s in Lakeside Mall, but had always desired to open his own restaurant.
Initially McGrail says Mifsud had envisioned opening a biergarten called “Gabel” (the German word for “fork”) that served classic German comfort foods. McGrail, whose parents are of Italian and Irish descent, had other ideas.
Through some experimentation, McGrail developed a trial menu for Mifsud that combine elements of German cuisine with flavors and themes from Irish pub food and classic Italian dishes. “It’s just a lot of comfort food but works together,” says McGrail.
While final menu is still in development, the chef says diners can expect hearty dishes such as Dubliner spätzle and cheese, Guinness stew with braised beef short rib and spätzle, and Irish waffle bombs with Guinness chocolate waffles, Bailey’s vanilla ice cream, chocolate covered pretzels, and Jameson’s caramel sauce.
The restaurant will also offer a full bar eight beer taps, a seasonal wine list, and a focused selection of bourbon, whiskey, and scotch. McGrail says he’s in talks with an unnamed local brewer to collaborate on replenishing roughly half of the taps with a rotating selection of beers.
Overall the restaurant will seat around 70 patrons including 20 seats at the bar in a communal dining room, according to Crain’s. Architecture firm Polyarch Inc, is developing the interior look for the space which feature exposed brick, wood ceilings, and tables made from old bowling alley wood. The kitchen was designed with assistance from Great Lakes Hotel Supply’s Design Division, McGrail tells Eater.
Outside, Mifsud recently completed an expansion of the parking lot shared by Two James, which stretches down 16th Street toward Michigan Central Station. McGrail says the second phase of construction will include the development of a 50- to 60-seat patio.
The Cork and Gabel is on track to debut in April. Stay tuned for more updates as the project progresses.