Comfort Food When You Need it Most

Over the past month and a half, who hasn’t felt the unbelievable disruptions in our daily lives? Whether it’s the cancellations of every possible event known to man, homeschooling our school-aged children, the banning of group get-togethers and travel, or the fear of not finding one roll of toilet paper at the store, we are clearly walking through extraordinary times. Undeniably, it’s safe to say we’re all feeling the need to reintroduce normalcy back in our lives. Indeed, what could be better during this uncomfortable quarantine than true, downhome, comfort food?

Located in McKinney, Uncork’d Wine Bar & Grill most assuredly fits the bill. With more than 40 years experience in the business, Mike Baird describes Uncork’d as ‘the neighborhood hangout,’ serving freshly-made, unique and memorable food in a cozy, casual dining room. Excited to blow off some steam and get out of the house, my husband and I – and our three teenaged boys – tried their carryout service for a restorative family meal at home.

When reviewing the menu online, their drink repertoire featured quite the extensive list, offering both domestic and foreign varieties of wine on tap, wine by the glass, red and white wine by the bottle, sparkling wine, bottled beer, spirits, and a delectable list of cocktail choices as well as soft drinks and tea. The lunch and dinner menus were equally inspiring, showcasing a casual but interesting menu while highlighting multiple choices that catered to those who prefer vegetarian or vegan diets. A large gallery of beautiful photos displaying their culinary creations added to the interest and appeal.

Suddenly very hungry and inspired, I phoned Uncork’d and Justin immediately answered the call. After several questions regarding his recommendations, I placed our order and was told our food would be ready for pickup in no more than 15 minutes. We arrived at their McKinney location and parked easily in front. Although located in a strip mall, the restaurant is remarkably sizable and an outdoor patio area with a television immediately visible when arriving to the establishment. Handsome, wood-grained tables decorated the walkway leading to the front doors, and I instantly noticed the cleanliness and tidiness of both the outside and front entrance areas.

I entered the restaurant and was greeted with a bright smile by Justin. Practicing social distancing, we stayed more than six feet apart from one another as he confirmed my name and then motioned to our food. As he walked to retrieve my bill, I immediately noticed a beautiful array of dancing lights splashing magenta, gold and emerald green across the bar area, which housed a large selection of liquor and beer choices. The interior boasts a rustic charm with a modern vibe décor, accented with warm wood floors, pub tables, and leather accents. Although during this time of quarantine we were the only patrons inside, the restaurant provided spacious seating. We quickly paid, retrieved our waiting packaged food, and headed home to dig in.

As we drove the 15 minutes back to our house, the tempting aroma of our dinner teased and tantalized us. Finally arriving home, I started the meal by sipping my lemonade, perfectly balanced between the acidic tartness and the syrupy, sweet variety. While Uncork’d offers a long list of savory appetizers including Nacho Taters, homemade onion strings, and spinach dip and crostini to name just a few, we chose the Charcuterie and Cheese Board – a contrasting mix of flavors and textures which offered two meats, two cheeses, sweet purple grapes, a plethora of mixed nuts, crisp crackers and an interesting raspberry and habanero jam. While Uncork’d’s presentation left something to be desired (because we were required to take it home in throwaway containers – darn quarantine!), the various mixed tastes of the Italian sausage, prosciutto, white cheddar cheese and garlic and herb boursin spread on buttery crackers and topped with the spicy jam proved to be a complete success. All of us agreed we could easily make the charcuterie and cheese board our main entrée.

After some hearty hors d’oeuvres, I sought a lighter entrée. Thankfully, Uncork’d presents a wide variety of delicious signature, new style, and health conscious (vegetarian and gluten free) menu options. This time, I chose the Ruby Red Chicken salad, a spring mix bed of lettuce topped with grilled chicken, fresh raspberries, fried avocado (OH MY GOODNESS!), homemade croutons and a light raspberry vinaigrette. The warm chicken was perfectly cooked and paired amazingly with the fresh salad fixings. The soft croutons were packed with buttery flavor, and while I was seeking something healthful but filling, to say it hit the spot wouldn’t be sufficient. It was absolutely impeccable.

My husband and three boys (man children) chose to partake in more robust dishes, and they also were not disappointed. First up was the Texas “Heatloaf,” a jalapeno and fire-roasted tomato meatloaf served with firecracker ketchup, garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Prepared in an individual loaf pan, the dish offered just enough to be filling but not enough to be miserable later. The individual flavors blended beautifully to create an absolutely delicious meal. Two of my teenaged boys chose the Philly and Caprese Paninis, which were both gigantic in size and served on a bed of crispy French fries. Prepared on a French baguette, the Philly Panini was piled with steak sirloin and topped with caramelized onions and provolone cheese, while the Caprise Panini was layered with mozzarella, tomato and pesto on Italian bread. For my two hungriest eaters, both entrees were exceptionally satisfying. My oldest son chose the Stuffed Chicken for his meal, which appropriately offered a large chicken breast packed with tomatoes, bacon, spinach and mozzarella cheese, served with hearty mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables in creamy tarragon sauce.

At this point, even though we could have rolled from our kitchen to our specific bedrooms, we couldn’t help but dive into our next course – dessert! As we opened the carryout container, our eyes feasted on one of the largest pieces of New York Cheesecake we had ever seen. Offered with two containers of caramel and chocolate sauce, we drizzled the delectable liquids over the large wedge of cake and then took the plunge. As a dessert lover, I can honestly say that if I had died and gone to heaven after finishing that beautiful delicacy, I would be one happy camper. My only complaint was I shared it with three hungry teenagers!

Ultimately, Uncork’d’s food was absolutely amazing, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Of course, we did miss the restaurant experience, but given the safety and well-being of our nation during these quarantine days, this was definitely a fantastic alternative. Once we return to a more normal state of mind, I am sure we will return to fully enjoy the beautiful atmosphere, friendly wait staff, and full ambiance of the establishment.

Whether looking for a fun night out, going out with the girls, or eating with your family, Uncork’d in McKinney hits the mark as a fan favorite and feel good neighborhood wine bar and restaurant. Uncork’d is located at 301 N. Custer Road, #180, in McKinney, and their phone number is 214-592-8841. They also have a location at 615 Main St., Suite 100 in Frisco. Visit www.uncorkdwinebar.com for more information and to view a lunch or dinner menu.

Carolyn Cameron
Carolyn Cameron is an online writer and marketer who fancies coffee, her family, random creative endeavors and finishing a home project in her off time.