Earl’s Kitchen & Bar 416.916.0227 open daily lunch & dinner http://www.earls.ca/
I was invited to Earls for the Spring Menu Chef’s Table along with a few fellow foodies to taste the new seasonally inspired menu. Ontario farmers provide the restaurant with organic vegetables and herbs, Canadian Angus beef and grade #1 durum semolina (pasta) from Italpasta – produced and grown right here. Walking through gorgeous wood arches on my way inside, I notice a large patio to my right laden with lovely flowers and a relaxed-looking after-work crowd. Inside Chef Richard Baksh has prepared a 5 course tasting menu highlighted by cocktails. The service is remarkably quick and efficient. I really thought I knew Earls, but I was so wrong…
Summer cocktails created by Cameron Bogue, a mixologist from Vancouver, are sublime: pineapple ginger margarita with El Jimador Blanco Tequila, ginger, fresh lime. A chewy made-in-house jerky tops off Earls signature badboy Caesar; and how cool is the Moscow Mule served in a copper pot!
Leroy’s crispy dry ribs tossed with cracked pepper and flaky salt are fatty and addicting – brought back on the menu by popular demand – the only thing missing is a dip. Peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin Carpaccio is delicate, balanced by vinegary capers and deviled eggs. Connecticut brought us damn good sandwiches and Earls lobster and prawn roll is a knockout. A buttery griddled brioche bun, housemade bread n’ butter pickles( which I normally don’t like, but these are AMAZING) create this habit-forming sandwich.
The main course brings together Whatchamacallit (California grown Merlot – Earls private winery) with, 28 day-aged angus striploin rubbed with Earls signature spiced fresh herb and porcini rub that is jaw-droppingly good; sided with Yukon garlic mashed potato, vibrant haricots verts, zucchini, squash and corn topped with salty feta. The roasted chicken is a little dry but fares well drenched in a sour cream and avocado tomatillo sauce. The whatchamacallit wine pairing is a buttered-popcorn-tasting Chardonnay. And, oh ya, they also have thickly marbled ribeye steaks!
To finish the evening, a nostalgic Strawberry rhubarb crumble topped with vanilla gelato. The texture of the rhubarb made me think of my grandmother, how she made the best compotes ever (picture the scene from Ratatouille when the critic tastes the ratatouille) hitting the spot like a warm blanket on a cold day.