The Hidden House

Nikki BuchananNovember 2019
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Crispy duck breast; Photography by Melissa Valladares
Crispy duck breast; Photography by Melissa Valladares

With its greatest-hits-style modern menu, this cozy, crowd-pleasing gastropub is another welcome addition to the rising Chandler dining scene.

As a sucker for vintage houses brought back to life as restaurants, I was more or less predisposed to adore The Hidden House. Situated on a quiet street near the bustle of Chandler’s historic square, this winsome 1939 cottage is truly adorable, sporting a small outdoor bar and greenery-filled patio out front as well as a relaxed and comfy event-friendly hangar in the back. Owned by the Chandler-based team that transformed a circa-1912 newspaper office into The Brickyard back in 2016, the place is only “hidden” metaphorically, and is hardly a secret. On a Saturday night in October, it’s running a wait list.

It’s easy to see why, given the serious cocktail program (I loved, loved, loved my perfect Aviation) and wine list featuring affordable (and actually drinkable!) wines by the glass. Even more pertinently, the approachable, New American menu is rife with crowd-pleasers, courtesy of head chef Aaron Rickel, who previously worked with Beau MacMillan at Sanctuary. His menu is a sort of Billboard Top 40 list of recent culinary trends, but I’m not complaining. Well-executed and reasonably priced, they hit the mark more often than not.

What’s not to like, for example, about hefty beef bones, their marrow brushed with kicky Korean chile glaze and charred in the broiler until it’s sticky and gelatinous, then sprinkled with caper-cashew gremolata and topped with frilly frisée? Served with grilled country bread, they’re wonderful. Ditto for tender knobs of hash-marked Spanish octopus, served amid a jumble of white beans, fingerlings, chorizo, charred shishitos, almonds, tomato broth and herbs – a harmonious melding of flavors and textures. Truffle-scented polenta, enriched with garlic-Parmesan cream, crispy pancetta and roasted maitake mushrooms, the whole luscious thing topped with a soft-poached egg, is pure comfort, while Rickel’s inspired take on the done-to-death roasted beet salad is both lovely and compelling: tender slivered beets littered with candied walnuts, crispy mozzarella, orange segments, shaved fennel and agave crema. Also stellar: rich tuna tataki, bathed in salty-sweet miso-ponzu vinaigrette and brightened with salty tobiko, and a crispy duck breast entrée sided with grilled peaches, bok choy and goat cheese.

Spanish octopus; Photography by Melissa Valladares
Spanish octopus; Photography by Melissa Valladares

Minor misses include a truffle mac and cheese that, despite its nuanced mix of white cheddar, Fontina and Gruyère, isn’t creamy enough; and a hanger steak, served with not-crispy rösti potatoes, that needs salt and more than a smidgen of mushroom cream sauce. The butternut squash tucked inside pockets of ravioli, drenched in brown butter-sage cream, isn’t as sweet as it could be, a problem for my friend but not for me, given how many other good things (apple, Parmesan, candied walnuts and shiitake mushrooms) are going on.

I’m smitten with this sweet place for half a dozen good reasons. It instantly becomes my best reason to drive 25 minutes to Chandler for a meal. You Chandlerians need to put it in your regular rotation.

tuna tataki; Photography by Melissa Valladares
tuna tataki; Photography by Melissa Valladares
The Hidden House

Cuisine: New American
Contact: 159 W. Commonwealth Ave., Chandler, 480-275-5525, hiddenhouseaz.com
Hours: Su-Th 11 a.m.-11 p.m., F-Sa 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Highlights: Charred bone marrow ($14); Spanish octopus ($18); creamy polenta ($12); tuna tataki ($16); beet salad ($12); crispy duck breast ($26)

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