Sunday, June 26, 2011

Restaurant Review - Cork

Once again I have to apologize for the photo quality. I didn't have high hopes for vegan friendliness on this one, so I left my camera at home. I am thrilled to tell you, that I was soooooo wrong.

We were taking Ty and Ry out for their birthdays (one way late and one a little early), so we asked them to pick a place they really wanted to try. I got a text from Ty that they wanted to try Cork in Chandler. I had heard really great things about their food, but the menu looked pretty meat and fish based. So I was prepared to have a salad and maybe some side dishes. Hence the reason the camera stayed parked at home.

We found the restaurant in a rather large mall area. It looked very unassuming and fairly small. When we stepped inside, the room was very tastefully decorated with a modern flair. The bar area was nicely appointed. Their wine cellar was on display behind a glass wall. It was very impressive. It was early, so there weren't many guests in the restaurant when we arrived. They sat us in a very spacious and comfortable booth.

Our server, Matthew greeted us very promptly. He let us know that for the evening they were only offering a 5 course chef's choice tasting ($55.00). The regular menu was not available. The restaurant is closing today for 2 1/2 weeks to have a gas line installed, so they needed to make the best use of the food they had left. We asked him if the kitchen could do a vegan version. I was so pleasantly surprised when he quickly returned and said it was no problem at all; the chef was very familiar with what was and was not vegan. I was happy as a pig in the mud!

Now, we don't eat meat anymore, but I have to tell you, each and every course that came out (vegan or not) was beautifully presented. The kids said their dishes had incredible flavor and were cooked to perfection. The wine list was outstanding. I ordered the first bottle. Fred, now armed with just enough wine knowledge to be dangerous, ordered the second bottle. Let me just say, he went more than a little overboard. But, queue the angel music HAAAAA it was a glorious selection. The service was very attentive and spot on without being intrusive. The servers know their food and know how to take care of their guests. We all left very full, very satisfied and very impressed with Cork. We will be going back again and again. It is hard to find a good independently owned upscale place in the east valley, let alone a vegan friendly one.

Ladies and gentleman of the vegan persuasion, prepare for a feast for your eyes. No matter what your dietary persuasion you need to go to Cork for a feast for your taste buds and tummies.

Fred's first course was a beet and greens salad with pine nuts. It was dressed with a light citrus vinaigrette. The greens were fresh and wonderful!

My first course was a duo of cold soups with roasted nuts. The pineapple soup was garnished with toasted coconut and the cantaloup soup with a fresh mint leaf. The nuts were beautiful. The has a very slight hint of sweetness and were a lovely complement to the sweet soups.

The second course was an incredible tabbouleh. I often find that tabbouleh has far to much mint in it for my taste. This one did not. It was perfectly balanced with mint, parsley, black and white quinoa. It was served with a very flavorful Romesco sauce and an herbed gremolata. Look at the beautiful presentation. I could have had this by itself and been totally satisfied for the evening, but oh no, we had three more courses to go.

For the third course. The chef sent out a light citrus salad with shaved fennel and toasted pecans. The pecans and the oranges were fantastic together. It was a nice palate cleanser for the 4th course.

The fourth course was another delightful surprise. I have found in the past when we do tasting menus at upscale restaurants that will accommodate our vegan request, the chef's often times are challenged on providing protein. Such was not the case with chef Brian Peterson (he used to cook at Lon's at the Hermosa, another of our favorites). He masterfully created this beautiful lentil dish flecked with baby asparagus, fresh zucchini and sliced baby bell pepper rings. I wish I had this recipe. The vegetables were perfectly cooked el dente. The lentils also had a perfect texture. The first bite I took I could taste a hint of sweetness, perhaps some fennel, then BAM there was a peppery spice that was just incredible. I love spicy food, so I was ecstatic. I made everyone at the table taste it. Ty said she wished she had gotten it as her entree too. So happy!!!

Last but not least was the 5th course: dessert. I was so full by the time we got to dessert, but this beautiful trio of sorbets was the perfect end to an incredible dining experience. The trio consisted of pineapple, raspberry and melon sorbets. They were light and fruity with just the right amount of sweetness. 

If you really want to impress your date or yourself for that matter, you must make sure to check out this unique east valley experience. 

4991 S Alma School Road, Suite 1
Chandler, AZ 85248


  1. I want to go! This sounds like a lovely meal.

  2. My husband and I tried this a few weeks ago (on a Sunday when they do their Chef's choice tasting menu) and it was incredible. Definitely on our list of favorite places now.

    Thanks for sharing your experience - although I am not Vegan - it all sounded absolutely delicious and just really brings home the skill and versatility of this chef.