First Taste

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

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See also: The Revival in Tempe: Spirit-Forward Cocktails and Waffle-Wrapped Chicken

The effort to make the restaurant a more casual dining spot is successful to a point. The renovated dining room includes design elements such as a chalkboard wall, reclaimed-looking wood, and Edison bulb light fixtures. It feels less sophisticated than Cork, but no amount of aesthetic alterations can change the fact that the restaurant's focal point is the beautiful, glass-encased wine room.

The menu, described on the restaurant's website and re-imagined classic American cuisine, retains an elevated sensibility -- and elevated price tags. Entrees, which range in price from about $15 to $24 each, are about $10 cheaper than what Cork was serving, but still make for a relatively expensive meal.

About half of the menu is dedicated to hot and cold starters, which can also be enjoyed as shareable plates. The deviled eggs ($7) fit well into the restaurant's Americana theme but alternated between being heavy on salt in one bite and on the mustard in another. The lamb meatballs ($12) were also a disappointment; the dish came with just three meatballs dressed in an unremarkable tomato sauce peppered with pieces of feta cheese.

The savory monkey bread ($7) fared much better. Though the name may be a bit misleading to those familiar with the gooey, sweet version of the dish, Earnest's take is still quite enjoyable. You'll get a half loaf of crusty, white bread sliced and adorned with melted cheese and spices. It's a bit greasy, but hard not to like.

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria