Restaurant: Earls Restaurant –
Cuisine: American/West Coast
Last visited: January 5, 2010
Price Range: $10-20
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 3 (on this occasion, usually I'd give it a 4)
- Canadian chain restaurant
- Recently renovated
- Excellent bar/lounge area
- Contemporary design, furniture, lighting
- Glass partition
- Lounge area features big screen TV’s
- Average $17/person (w/tax & tip, drinks excluded)
- Attracts 20’s crowd after 9pm
- Kid-friendly, fit for families, but generally attracts youthful crowd
- Daily drink specials
- Lounge and dining area
- Kid-friendly, but more fit for friends & couples
- Lunch and dinner
- Good for game/drinks
**Recommendation: I usually go for their special features, but on the regular menu, out of what I’ve tried, I like: Grilled Prawn Tacos, West Coast Prawn Salad, Grilled Chicken and Baked Brie Ciabatta
So yes, even foodies go to chain restaurants…on the rare occasion. I prefer to dine at independents or non-chain restaurants. I like things that are less available, and I want to taste and support the local talent. However I do like to see how chain restaurants such as Earls are changing. I’m always curious when there’s a new menu item, new location opening or if they’ve undergone renovations.
Earls has improved so much in the last 3 years, to the point where I am now a customer again. The menu and image has been upgraded and the prices are decent for the food they serve. It’s not family style like White Spot, more “classy” than Sammy J Peppers, but not as expensive or “high end” as Cactus Club. I would say it’s between Sammy J Peppers and Cactus Club – maybe more along the lines of Moxies.
I’ve been to Earls Restaurant maybe 7 times (different locations) in the last 6 months and I always find myself ordering something off their special features menu. They constantly keep their menus updated and there’s always something new to try. I like that about Earls, I just don’t know how they afford to do this.
Their menu has improved 10 fold and their image has also changed…to somewhat attracting a younger (19-25) crowd especially after 9pm. There’s a lot of West Coast influence in their American classics and everything is done quite well. The portions are decent for the most part and the prices are affordable.
The Earls Restaurant in
The Earls Restaurant in
It was very contemporary with a glass partition, stunning wine bar, angular mirrors, and mini clear globe like chandeliers. The one thing I really disliked is the height of the booths on the dining area. They come up to just below the shoulder blades when you sit back, so if someone sits behind you you’re pretty much touching heads. It’s very awkward and not intimate at all. The lounge is nice though, but even some of those booths are built with low frames.
I was more blown away by the ambiance, design and decor than I was by the new features menu (which I'll almost always order from). Everything was good, but the stuff on their previously special features menu featuring braised short ribs and I think it was a honey mustard glazed salmon was better.
Los Cabos Chicken Tacos 2.5/6
- Two grilled soft corn tortillas, spicy tomato poached chicken, avocado corn salsa, melted cheddar and Monterey jalapeno jack, shredded lettuce, chopped cilantro, salsa picante $7.55 Add additional chicken tacos 3.80 each
- These were pretty good, but I prefer the grilled prawn tacos. Both versions are really small though, even as an appetizer…they’re 2 biters.
- There was a lot of shredded romaine and roughly chopped cilantro on top and I don’t know if that was to cover up the amount of chicken because there really wasn’t much. If it was for presentation it didn’t work because it would look better with a clean spoonful of poached chicken on top.
- The tortilla was a corn tortilla and I actually prefer a flour tortilla. The corn tortilla was grilled up and a little hard so I would prefer something softer with the nicely poached chicken.
- The chicken was moist and almost like pulled chicken it was so tender there just wasn't much. It tastes like it was poached in those mild salsa packets they serve at Taco Bell, with maybe some taco seasoning mixed in. However I actually don’t mind those packaged salsas...I just wasn’t expecting that flavour.
- They were not spicy at all, unless you used the hot sauce they served it with. The sauce tastes like Peri Peri sauce from Nando’s or Frank’s Red hot sauce.
- There was so much lettuce I really couldn’t pick out any other ingredients. The most distinct flavour was that mild salsa packet sauce. They were still good, but I also wouldn’t care to order them again.
Cedar Planked Salmon with Panang Curry Sauce 2.5/6
- Authentic spicy Thai red curry, brown basmati rice and seasonal vegetables $21
- I almost always order their salmon special feature because it hasn’t disappointed me and there’s always a new version.
- The risk with salmon is that it's almost always overcooked. 3/3 times I've ordered salmon from different Earls locations I’ve never had an overcooked or dry one yet, so I hope that continues.
- This was the biggest piece of salmon I’ve been served at Earls. It was pretty huge and thick too. It was seasoned with salt and pepper and fully cooked, but still juicy. I usually like mine undercooked, but I didn’t request it and its fine the way they do it.
- I’m about 99% sure they use pre-made red curry paste here. I’m not liking the “authentic” in the description. Earls making “authentic” Thai food…?
- The curry sauce is a bit spicy and quite aromatic with a pretty strong lemongrass flavour. I missed the fresh basil and the flavour of fish sauce as the salt rather than actual salt.
- Alright so even if I accept the pre-made red curry paste, my biggest issue was there was no ginger or garlic. Most, if not all, Asian recipes start with ginger and garlic. I had none so for me it was not “authentic” at all. Not that I was expecting it to be, cause it is Earls, but at the same time a little ginger and garlic is not hard to incorporate into a recipe.
- The basmati rice was better here than when I had it at the Strawberry Hill location in
Surrey. It was too mushy when I had it at the Surreylocation.
- The seasonal veggies were roasted yams, butternut squash and red beets. These were delicious. Tender, simple and very flavourful. 6/6 on these!
Oven Roasted Chicken with White Wine Cream Sauce 3/6
- Tender boneless chicken breast, mushrooms, shallots and white wine with fresh cream in a rich demi glace, roast potatoes and seasonal fresh vegetables $19
- I was quite impressed with how much chicken they gave. It was 2 big pieces of chicken breast with a nicely roasted skin and for the price, I think it’s worth it. It was also tender, moist and quite juicy.
- The sauce could have been a lot more flavourful and well -rounded, but it wasn’t reduced enough. It looks more reduced in the photo than it actually was. It wasn’t really a demi glace either because demi glace is supposed to be brown and beef based.. The sauce was a very simple shallot and white wine sauce and the white wine was the flavour that stood out most. It was thickened with cream, some butter, and some whole grain mustard (which was more sweet than spicy ).
- The seasonal veggies were the same ones served with the salmon except this one has roasted potatoes. Again – perfection!
Brownie with Toblerone Chocolate 3.5/6
- Individual chewy chocolate brownie, melted milk chocolate TOBLERONE centre, crème fraiche gelato $3.50
- This was pretty good, but also pretty small. But who cares because at $3.50 can you really complain? It’s about the size of 3 two-bite brownies put together.
- This chocolate brownie is basically a chocolate lava cake, but instead of lava there’s a piece of Toblerone in the middle. The brownie is pretty much half cooked and the Toblerone completely melted. The chocolate was 1 piece and I would have preferred smaller pieces all throughout. I could barely taste the Toblerone and it was only in one bite.
- I totally thought the gelato was just vanilla…which means the crème fraiche was overwhelmed by the chocolate or just not that tangy in flavour. I also ran out of ice cream before I did brownie.
- The brownie was good though; rich, chocolaty and moist…it was like a giant Two Bite Brownie served warm, so overall I was still happy with this dessert.
- The feature S'mores dessert they offered in the summer is still the best feature dessert I've had there. This Toblerone brownie was better than the gingerbread cake they had on their last menu though. The gingerbread cake was festive and different and served with sauteed apples, but the cake was a bit dry.