Friday, 30 December 2011

Earls Claireview Edmonton, AB - Decent fare for girls night out

Rating Service 8/10 Food 7.5/10
Okies, its been a few weeks since our bake-a-thon-swap-a-thon, and I'm finally got a chance to sit down and post on the evening festivities. After swapping recipes and all sorts of yummy in the tummy freshly baked goods, we all had a lovely brunch, pooled our stashes of cosmetics and spa collections, caught up on what everyone's been up to and pampered each other from head to toes. We headed off to dinner at a nearby Earls as we were a fairly large group, they took reservations last minute and we were too lazy to go far.  Despite previous rumours of awful service in the past, things have changed for the better as service was fast and friendly in this dimly lit dark panelled wood restaurant with a bar like atmosphere.  Thanks everyone for sharing your fab photos (and patiently waiting while everyone snapped pics before eating)!


the DRINKS
After a brief wait for our table to be set and for the rest of our carpools to reach the restaurant, we were seated quickly by friendly waiters.  As our table ordered a round of pop, lemonade and colourful fruity cocktails, the waiters bought out not one, but three glasses of red wine for our table to sample. Earl's has a range of affordable wines as well as signature blends, blended specifically for the chain, which we learned from the fab MelMel as she had worked at Earl's in the past and was the night's most exacting critic. Some of my girlfriends enjoyed a new Rascal and Merlot with their meal- one was quite dry, peppery with lots of tannin notes, while the other was a medium-dry, fruity sweet with acidic notes.


the FOOD
Some of us haven't been back to Earls since they updated their old old old menu, and we were happy to see a wide range of new menu items.  Surprisingly, though we had all chose what we wanted to eat on our own without consulting each other, all of us ordered a mix of the same appetizers and entrees, with some of us ordering a few appetizers instead of entrees and sides of pan bread, soup, fries or garden salad.  Great minds think alike!  We passed the time chatting and the kitchen brought out all the food at once with only a few execution errors.  Forgot to take pics of some appetizers like calamari (sollies!)

the APPETIZERS
Clam chowder
This was a favorite amongst us that made Earls a go-to place during our post secondary years, and I'm glad it hasn't changed much. A rich cream base has plenty of small sweet fresh clams with soft pieces of diced celery, carrots, onions and bacon hot tubibng in the soup. Its garnished with a hit of finely diced parsley to add in a bright note. Warms and fills the tummy especially if you pair it with a large soft chunk of their pan baked herbed or garlic bread, or paired with another appetizer...


Prawn dynamite roll
This roll with medium prawns rolled in panko (a finer textured crumb than the run of the mill bread crumbs) before being fried, and rolled up with mango chunks, ripe avocado, cucumber slivers, plain rice and a squirt of Japanese mayo sounded promising. Thin julienned pieces of mango would have worked better as the mango used was unripe with an overly firm texture. Unfortunately, despite the pretty presentation of the inside out roll encrusted with toasted black sesame seeds and the promise of tasty flavors within, the maple soy reduction and sriracha mayonnaise that heavily saturated the rolls masked the interplay of flavors. If they had used a lighter hand on the spicy mayo, this dish would have been tasty, rather than just a mouthful of hot sauce and mayo.  The pickled ginger and wasabi was ignored as we found it completely extraneous.  Thank you MelMel for getting me chopsticks as it was near impossible to eat these rolls with a fork without them falling apart :)


Los Cabos Chicken Tacos
These two grilled white corn tortillas packed with shredded iceberg lettuce and cabbage hid a handful of sliced spiced tomato poached chicken, a scoop of avocado corn salsa, cheddar and jalapeno jack cheese, a lacing of honey lime dressing, and chopped cilantro were served in napkin holders making it easy to pick up and dig in. It was served with a side of mild salsa (where's the sour cream?). My girlfriends commented that the taco was passable but not well executed as the tortilla was an oddly in-between texture - not crunchy nor soft, with the chicken on the dry side, though spiced mildly so it did not dominate the other ingredients in the taco and folks with low spice tolerance can still enjoy it. Fries were enjoyable as many of of likened them to crisp-mooshy McDonald fries.


The ENTREES
Grilled chicken and baked brie ciabatta
This dish was the hit of the night. The grilled chicken was tender, moist, and seasoned well.  Combined with melted ooey gooey creamy brie, roasted mooshy apples, fresh spinach, all on soft-chewy fresh house baked ciabatta spread with a sweet fig jam and garlic mayonnaise... the combination of sweet, tangy, savory and different textures made this sandwich amazing. YB likened the yummy sandwich to a cheese fondue that happened to be put in a sandwich. Her only quibble - a heavier hand on the brie wouldn't have hurt (who doesn't love more brie?), and unless you have a cavernous mouth, its a bit difficult to have a bite that encompasses all the flavors of this tall layered sandwich.  That said... Nom!


Maple glazed salmon salad
This was a special of the night, and a fair amount of us ordered this dish. A small slab of maple butter glazed salmon was baked to a slightly overcooked but remained slightly moist texture rested on a bed of organic greens spring greens, with blanched green beans, small chunks of sweet soft roasted butternut squash, dried cranberries and salted pumpkin seeds tossed on top all drizzled in a light and refreshing lemon honey vinaigrette (Dressing on the side for the more health conscious amongst us). The kitchen forgot to add in bits of double creamed goat cheese, which they rectified quickly once we flagged a waiter down.  While tasty, we all thought plating could be improved as it looked like the ingredients were just dumped onto the plate.


Courtesy of Earls.ca
the DESSERTS
While we had initially wanted to share the warm gingerbread cake with brown sugar roasted apples, salted caramel sauce and a side of vanilla bean gelato... we all thought about all the sweets and freshly baked goods we swapped earlier in the day waiting for us, so we passed on the lovely looking dessert and will try it next time.


the VERDICT
Overall, despite some execution errors, for the level of service, ability to accommodate large tables on super short notice, Earls is a good place for a girls night out. And make sure you try the cheese fondue disguised as a sandwich.


Earls Clairview
Address
13330 50 Street Edmonton,AB T5A 4Z8
Phone (780) 473-9008
Hours 11:30am till late daily
Earls Clareview on Urbanspoon

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