Earls Kitchen & Bar – Mall at Millenia.
I have been a fan of Earls since I visited one of their earliest locations in Robson Street Vancouver back in 1993, so was delighted to attend a soft opening preview a couple of months’ back. As I reported at the time, early indications of the food sampled and the beautiful design of the restaurant supported my hopes for an amazing experience when normal trading began.
I don’t believe any review of a new restaurant should take place until a couple of months have passed to ensure teething troubles have been eradicated and the site has settled down into a regular trading pattern, so with this in mind stayed away until I popped in for lunch this week and was not disappointed.
The restaurant is part of the Mall at Millenia complex, but this is a mere fact of location and no indication of the quality and excellence you receive at Earls, it may be a chain but it certainly does not feel like one. There is valet parking curbside and you enter past the host station to be greeted and seated as to your preference. The restaurant is huge, with two distinct areas, the lower level has a central bar with seating at the bar and quirky park bench style booths around the outside. The lower level also gives access to the wrap around patio dining area. The higher-level dining gives views of the open theater kitchen and has its own bar across the end of the dining area. The space is beautiful with bespoke wall art plus intriguing architecture and cutting edge design features that help create both atmosphere and welcoming ambiance.
Earls Kitchen and Bar must have one of my favorite menus, as they gather tastes and selections from all over the world without confusing the diner by the menu being overly large. The menu is split into the usual areas with the Starters ranging from Fish Tacos to California Rolls and Leroy’s Crispy Ribs. Soups and Salads featuring Earls Famous Clam Chowder. Noodles and Rice Bowls, a great section with Jeera Curry to Fettuccini Alfredo. Main Plates features Earls famous Cajun Chicken, Steaks, Ribs, Burgers and more. Desserts round up the menu offer with Sticky Toffee Pudding and a Smores Skillet Cookie being part of the delicious selection. A “New & Notable” menu card gives further seasonal options.
Earls was an early adopter of the sustainable food and farm accreditation movement for all its Beef, Poultry and Seafood sourcing, a movement that has spread not only across North America but around the world.
The dishes we selected on this visit were:
Italian Style Pan Bread – with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. A generous slab of herb bread with oil & vinegar dipping sauce.
Leroy’s Crispy Ribs – dry, savory rib bites seasoned with coarse salt and black pepper. Could get addictive.
Jeera Curry – cumin spiced potato curry with garam masala, turmeric, paprika and red chilies, finished with a touch of cream over rice and served with a baked naan bread. I loved this dish, a simple traditional Indian curry dish with authentic Naan bread. You can add Shrimp, Steak, Chicken or Tofu if you wish but I thought it was great just by itself.
Cajun Chicken – a blackened double breast of chicken, garlic butter, warm potato salad and coleslaw. This has been a signature dish of Earls for some time, the chicken is so succulent, but still has a spicy blackened crust on the outside. Don’t ever take this off the menu.
Earls have some serious cocktails, beer, both craft & local, terrific wine selections and house made sodas.
In terms of service from the hosts to the bartenders, from the servers to the management, all the team seem happy and enthusiastic to be working in Earls, this is no mean feat in this age of consumerism and service apathy. Whatever the reason they need to bottle it and pass on to other establishments.
- Gluten aware and vegetarian selections available.
- Happy Hour Monday-Friday (see web site for details).
- Earls, The Cookbook is available in all locations with all profits donated to the Alex community food center.
- Ask about shopping bag lock up.
- Free Wi-Fi.
- Gift cards available – perfect for a holiday gift.
I will be a regular customer at this location of Earls and here’s why. Great quality food, diverse menu that does not follow the usual trends found in most restaurants today, sustainable accredited food sourcing, amazing space and ambiance, great team. A recipe for success I believe.
So, I know the I-4 can be infuriating but if you have never visited Earls Kitchen & Bar or are unaware it is even there, take the time and grab a bite to eat soon, the mall shopping can wait while you get some refreshment. Or better still make this your destination restaurant, as I said before the location is circumstantial, wherever located, a great restaurant is a great restaurant.