First Taste

Earnest in Chandler: An Olive Oil Cocktail and Savory Monkey Bread

When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: Earnest Location: 4991 S. Alma School Rd, Sun Lakes Open: Over a week Eats: Seasonal American Price: $30+ a person

For six years Cork was a star in the East Valley dining scene. The restaurant, opened by three alumni from Lon's at the Hermosa Inn, brought a level of culinary excellence to a part of town where fine-dining was -- and is still -- pretty hard to come by. Just last year we spoke to chef Brian Peterson about how the restaurant had struggled to find its niche, but consistent national recognition for the restaurant's wine program and love from local diners seemed to indicate Cork was here to stay.

Alas, it wasn't. On July 1 Cork closed it doors for good and joined a growing list of local restaurants that have decided to redo their concepts to appeal to the more casual dining set. Just over two weeks after closing Cork, the restaurant reopened as Earnest, a seasonal American restaurant with a focus on updated comfort food, craft beer, and American spirits. From the original Cork trio only chef Brian Peterson and pastry chef Danielle Morris remain. Morris' husband Robert, a sommelier who co-owned Cork, isn't involved with the new restaurant.