Earnest in Chandler is the current iteration of what used to be Cork. I adored Cork. Ryan and I visited for a decadent wine dinner two years ago. Artfully crafted dishes, ingredient forward cuisine, delicate flavors and warm atmosphere all made it an extremely memorable meal. Thus, when I saw they were re-branding, attempting a more casual vibe so as to break out of the classification of “special occasion only” restaurant, I was worried that the finesse in their food would be lost. After a visit last night, I can confidently say that they have retained the elevation of cuisine and experience, while kicking it into a more casual mode to fit the sensibilities of Valley diners. Additionally, it’s now much more kid-friendly, which my little side-kick can confirm.
As you can see, these kids’ meals are not an afterthought or just chicken nuggets thrown in a basket. They match the culinary focus of the restaurant, featuring items like sweet BBQ ribs, creamy mac n cheese, fresh strawberry milk and fruit kabobs. Little Mr. Simon was quite taken with the presentation.
Earnest fills a unique need in that it obviously caters to pint-sized palates, but parents will be equally satisfied with what I’m calling, “thoughtful comfort-food.” Everything about their menu is homey and familiar, but with an extra dash of intentionality. The blackened saku tuna was not just perfectly cooked, but also bursting with bright flavors from the vegetables and dressed delicately with citrus. The burger would do right by any beef lover, but the combo of chiles, sriracha mayo and jack cheese took it from a great pub burger to an artfully crafted dish. Our ultimate favorite of the evening was the beef ribs stroganoff. A generous red wine braised short rib came served atop a seared egg noodle cake with wilted greens and horseradish jus. This, to me, was the perfect illustration of why I really enjoyed Earnest. It was a familiar dish, bringing back happy food memories, but presented with sophistication and creativity.
The desserts from their talented pastry chef, retained from the Cork days, isn’t doing your predictable lava cakes. Sweet treats include homemade candy bars (Almond Joy, Snickers and Reese’s Cups inspired) and a Caramel Bread Pudding with Creme Fraiche ice cream, counterbalancing the deep rich caramel with tangy creme fraiche.
Kids or no kids, either way, if you’re in Chandler (or even if you’re not, it’s worth a drive), check out Earnest. Thanks to the team there for having us in and making a memorable meal for the second time in this space.
4991 S Alma School Rd #1, Chandler, AZ 85248
Reservations: (480) 883-3773