The Earnest experience 1

Classic, comfortable and modern dining

Living in Arizona can sometimes become visually mundane. With strip malls galore and desert landscape everywhere you look, a person can find themselves yearning for color and character. Sometimes, though, beyond the sandy brown walls and cookie cutter fronts, unassuming gems can be found where ingenuity and creativity come alive. Earnest Restaurant is one of those gems.

Our House
Soon after I’m seated by the friendly hostess, I am immediately struck by the warm ambiance of the eatery. Time and effort has obviously been put into making this the perfect setting for a good meal. Marigold-colored, floral curtains, tufted blue booths line wood tables, and modest photo frames hang on the wall, which gives this place a feeling of home. Exposed vents and hanging filament lights also give it a modern, almost industrial feel. The place is sophisticated, yet comfortable. Stylish, but not showy.

Manager Scott Clore arrives to the table: let the eating games begin.

It’s five o’ clock somewhere
Upon sitting, I am given an iPad. This is my drink selector for the night. As can be seen by the magnificent glass case full of wine, there are many options from which to choose. From big, bold zins to light whites, the restaurant has an extensive assortment of varietals to tempt the palette. If non-alcoholic drinks are more your style, there are delicious options for you, including my choice: the Desert Blossom iced tea. A refreshing tea with a strong apricot presence.

Mealin’ and dealin’
Scott describes Earnest’s food as “high-end comfort.” He also states that if “I weren’t working here, I’d be eating here every day. You know what you’re going to get: consistent quality.” He then brought out his favorites for me to try.

I started with the zucchini cakes. This appetizer pairs shredded zucchini and squash with crab, champagne hollandaise, asparagus, and pickled onions. The hot conglomeration melts in your mouth and the pickled onions give the dish just the right zing to balance out the richness.

Next we were on to the double-cut, bone-in pork chop topped with a honey mustard bourbon glaze and house made applesauce. Sitting next to the chop were Yukon potatoes with sausage in a cheddar sauce. A hearty meal made for the hungriest guests. The side of Brussels sprouts was on another level. Even the biggest opponents of Brussels sprouts would quickly turn into believers after trying these little mouth delights. The sprouts are fried and combined with capers, lemon, and parsley.

Luckily, I left enough room for dessert: banana cream pie with toasted marshmallow and an Oreo crust. I learned that this treat earned itself a feature in Phoenix Magazine, the Arizona Republic, and the Phoenix New Times. And after tasting it, I can understand why.

Straight from mama’s kitchen

Owner Danielle Morris introduces herself to the customers at each table, many of whom have turned from first-time patrons to weekly regulars.

“The goal of Earnest is to be a neighborhood eatery,” she says. “A place that people can come during the week for a casual dinner or for a date night. For a special occasion, or happy hour with friends. For a bottle of wine or just a beer. To bring friends and family, or just yourself. But somewhere that you always feel welcomed, always get good food.”

Danielle is not only the owner, but also the Pastry Chef. She learned her baking skills from her mother, making pies from seasonal fruits, cakes for birthdays, and cookies at Christmas.

“I liked turning the ingredients into something beautiful and tasty,” she says “Once I got into [baking as a career], I found that plating desserts was an outlet for my artistic energy.”

C’mon get happy
Earnest also has a happy hour where you can snack on marinated olives, an open-faced meatloaf sandwich with caramelized onions, gravy, and a fried egg; salted crème brulee; and an assortment of other tasty options. There are $2 craft beers, $4 house red or white wines, and a $6 featured cocktail of the day.

Earnest is family-friendly and offers a kids menu for the young ones. Happy hour runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and reverse happy hour is from 8 p.m. to close. Earnest Restaurant is located at 4991 South Alma School Road in Suite One. Learn more at EarnestRestaurant.com. or call 480.883.3773 to make a reservation.