Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Earls Kitchen and Bar: Excellent casual dining at Orlando's Mall of Millenia

I had suggested Urbain 40 or DoveCote for our regular Wednesday lunch. Ron came back with Urbain 40 or Earls. I had never been to the latter (as a matter of fact was unaware of its existence) so I thought it would be interesting to explore. We plugged the name into Waze and let the car take us where it would.

It took us to the Mall of Millenia (Conroy Road in Orlando). More specifically, it took us to the site of the old Blue Martini Lounge, a night club where, in my younger days, I had some of my finest moments. It was now adorned with the name Earls.

I went through the entrance and into a rather cramped foyer. I peeked around the corner and, boy, it was a large space. After a short wait, we were taken to our seats. As we walked along, i noted that it was primarily a business clientele, drawn from non-retail businesses in the area, along with a smattering of mall shoppers.

The menu was extensive and seemed to have an offering from every major ethnic-food type. That was concerning in that it seemed a lot to pull off with excellence. Ron and Bev had eaten here before so they suggested that we start out with the chicken wings (one of the reasons I love these guys). The wings came. They looked good. They tasted even better. And they did not bow down in shame in the presence of the Jacques Selosse Rosé.

We next ordered a Dragon Roll from the Sushi and Raw Bar section of the menu. Scintillating. Paired well with the Ygrec. As did the Jamaican Jerk Chicken with a 2007 Clos Vougeot. For my main course I had a bunless burger washed down with a 1989 Lynch Bages.

Dragon Roll

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

At the end of the meal, Chef Simon came over to get feedback on the food. A bright, smiling young man from Vancouver (British Columbia), he had opened this restaurant and would soon be moving on to open another restaurant. It was during the course of this conversation that I first became aware that Earls was a Canadian chain with restaurants located around the world.We expressed our satisfaction with the days offerings and wished him all the best on his next assignment.

Chef Simon

Parlo and I were so impressed with the restaurant that we went back for brunch on Sunday. It was very busy and was much louder than on Wednesday. Mall shoppers and brunchers were out in full force.

The General Manager, Stefan Oostveen came over to help with my wine and this gave me the opportunity to query him about the restaurant and its business model. Like the Chef, he is also from Vancouver. Earls, he said, operates 60 - 70 restaurants worldwide. They started out as a beer and burger joint. The Chefs they have hired over the years, have added new products and management has kept the popular items. They also have a test kitchen which develops new concepts. The Sushi and Raw Bar, for example, is only a few months old. The overall focus is on using fresh ingredients and making things in-house.

Stefan, Oostveen, General Manager
I started out with a sashimi. I have seen more enticing presentations of this dish but this one more than held its own in terms of taste.


I nest tried the curry -- an unexpected dish in this environment -- and was very happy with my choice; great flavor; an appropriate level os spiciness; included chicken that was cooked to the perfect temperature; and a green-mango-like acidity.

Chicken Curry with Nan Bread

For my final course I had a marinated skirt steak. This is not a standalone item on the menu; it is normally paired with coconut prawns or sushi. At my request the additional elements of the dish were held off and the steak provided. Mint, rosemary, herb and an excellent marinade.

Marinated Skirt Steak

Excellent experiences. Great service, exceptional dishes, and a wonderful atmosphere (depending on time of visit). I would be remiss in not mentioning the $25 corkage fee. This is where I will be doing brunch from here on in.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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