This is either a bug or a feature that has been extremely frustrating ever since I switched to using a mac 18 months ago. On the mac version of Evernote, wrapping a string of words in quotation marks does not return an exact phrase search - as any other search engine would.
Instead, you get (often hundreds of) notes returned with all those words in them, but not necessarily in that order. I have run tests to see if it at least prioritises those notes that include an exact phrase match. It does not.
I love Evernote, but I have to say this is a massive drawback that affects my use of the program on a near-daily basis. I am surprised to see so few other Premium users complaining about it.
If anyone knows of a work-around or imminent fix, I would be extremely grateful to hear of it.