Cork: Happy Hour Report Card
This heaping platter of Crispy Onion Rings, served with a sweet housemade truffle ketchup, is just $5 during Cork's new happy hour.
The Details: There's nothing average about the four-star restaurant's new happy hour. It's an extensive, mouthwatering menu unto itself, beginning with $5 snacks like the duck fat French fries and gazpacho, and moving into smaller entrees like the Chef Burger, seared yellowfin tuna, and Mediterranean mussels (each $8). As if this wasn't enough, there are two mini desserts offered for $3 a piece: mini creme brulee and sweet potato cake.
On the drinks side, Cork offers a handful of $3 champagne cocktails (but good luck getting a bellini the week after Mother's Day -- our server said they were lucky to have any champagne left at all); $4 cocktails like the true-to-its-name cantaloupe martini; and $4 house glasses of chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon.
The house-popped caramel popcorn (served with nuts and oh-so-juicy dried fruit) is one of the most upscale bar snacks you'll have ($5).
The happy hour is always available in the bar and lounge area, but if there's space available they will be happy to seat you at a table or booth. Get to Cork soon, though; the restaurant is closing its doors in July for summer cleaning.
Cork's fried chicken (with mashed potatoes, haricot vert, and giblet gravy) is just $8 during happy hour.
The Interior: Tucked at the back of one of the palm-tree-lined shopping centers in the still-shiny sprawl of (very) south Chandler, Cork has a light and airy space, with high ceilings and a chic color scheme of teals and tans with copper accents. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide a view of the patio space, with an outdoor fireplace, rows of neatly trimmed greenery, and a trickling fountain. As you would expect for a four-star restaurant, it's elegant, clean, and comfortable -- like a cool oasis to slip away to after a long, hot day.
The risotto (Italian sausage, anisette, sweet peppers, basil, Parmesan cheese) -- $8.
The Cost: Turn this happy hour into dinner for two -- with two cocktails, two snacks, two entrees, and one dessert -- for $35 before tip and tax.
On the left, a Bourbon Manhattan ($4); on the right, a Kir Royale (a sweet champagne cocktail, $3).
The Conclusion: Our mouths were watering just perusing the new happy-hour menu at Cork, and, unsurprisingly, nothing on our plates or in our glasses was a disappointment. We were also pleased to see the restaurant take a less strict stance on happy-hour seating, rather than always restricting guests to the bar area (when you slide into one of their large booths with a champagne cocktail, you're not going to want to leave).
The Sweet potato cake (Grand Marnier cream cheese frosting, golden raisins), $3.
True, happy hours are best when the hours are more extensive, but with a 5 p.m. start (when Cork opens), these deals are open to anyone with customary work hours. Plus, the Cork happy hour menu is kind of like getting to eat at a four-star restaurant for two-star prices; plan an early dinner here and you will not be disappointed, either.
The Mini Creme Brulee with fresh berries (and a particularly, perfectly crispy crust), $3.
Overall Grade: A
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