A little slice of Belfast is coming to Round Rock this fall — along with some serious eats and drinks. Just down the road from both the Dell Diamond and Kalahari Resorts Texas, Cork & Barrel Craft Kitchen + Microbrewery positions itself at the intersection of Irish flair and Texan hospitality, featuring a chef-driven craft kitchen, microbrewery, and beer garden. It is set to open in late November.
Pivotal to the new concept is its authenticity, owed to founder and co-owner Sam Darlington’s upbringing in Ireland. Within C&B, guests can expect elements like hand-built Irish snugs — traditionally intimate, enclosed booth-seating with inlaid wood and stained glass — as well as floating fireplaces, 200-plus-year-old Irish stained glass, and such decorative artifacts as rivets from the RMS Titanic. (Darlington’s ancestors worked as riveters on the ill-fated cruise liner back in Belfast.)
"This really is Sam’s Mona Lisa, an homage to his home,” explains C&B co-owner Jay Kudla. “We wanted to get away from the overuse of things, like kelly green and the shamrocks, and incorporate things that are more about what a true pub in Dublin or Belfast looks like."
As for that Texan hospitality, Cork & Barrel’s takes the form of an upscale gastropub. Executive chef Josh Watkins’ menu includes such signature plates like white wine-steamed mussels, pistachio-crusted scallops, and a sandwich menu featuring signature burgers and Monte Cristos. From C&B’s chef counter, guests will have the chance to view Watkins prepare heartier entrees like a dry-aged prime rib with a blackberry-vinegar reduction.
Rounding out the pub’s offerings is a beverage program featuring an assortment of whiskeys, wines, housemade cocktails, and 24 local craft beers on tap — including house brews from Cork & Barrel’s onsite microbrewery. Helmed by master brewer and general manager Austin Markman, along with assistant general manager Paul Gomez, Cork & Barrel’s brewery program is also set to debut in November with a juicy summer IPA, a Dublin Irish red, and a vanilla forward stout, plus others yet to be announced.
Customers can enjoy such libations within the pub’s indoor space as well as a 4-acre outdoor beer garden featuring a gazebo-like pavilion, four outdoor televisions, and stages hosting both singer/songwriter acts and larger musical outfits.
To bolster what Kudla envisions as a Cheers-esque atmosphere, the business is offering a limited number of VIP memberships. Starting at $520, the various benefit packages, available until October 1, will include such perks as discounts, daily pints or glasses of wine, and a personalized engraved paver stone in the beer garden.
Regardless of VIP status, interested parties will have a chance to visit Cork & Barrels’s property, which is currently in the sheetrock stage of construction, for a special hard hat tour Friday, September 4, from 4-9 pm. On what's been dubbed the “dirty boots tour,” guests will be guided through stations where they’ll see C&B’s facilities and beverage programs, as well as select drinks and bites from the pub’s forthcoming menu.
Depending on the volume of tour reservations, a second date may be added Saturday, September 5. To RSVP for the dirty boots tour, email email@example.com or call (512) 528-0155. Tours must be reserved by Tuesday, September 1.