This month, I had the most incredible tasting at the new Earl’s Kitchen & Bar, which opened in Lincoln Park. It is always nice when I can bring a guest along to partake in the tasting experience. It also turned out that my guest shares the same middle name as the restaurant owner, which is Earl. So the stars were aligned right from the start!
The Canadian originated restaurant comprises of a trendy dining room with long booths, fire pits and a lively ambiance. From the moment we walked in, we felt cozy and welcomed. The extremely friendly staff seated us in the lounge area to get us started with some drinks.
The restaurant manager brought out several of their popular craft cocktails such as the Paloma, Silly Wabbit, Bees Knees, Lemon Meringue and a few more. Each drink was a uniquely & carefully created concoction of their house made syrups and fresh juices. The drinks were beautifully garnished and pleasantly delicious. The menu didn’t leave out the classics either. For this might come as a shock to my friends who know I’m not a whiskey drinker, that my favorite in fact was, the Earl’s Old Fashioned. Because if you can serve me Bourbon with demerara sugars and root beer bitters in perfect proportion like this drink did, then I’m in!
Needless to say, we had a great start.
We then started the food tasting. Not only did Head Chef Chris Memme stop by to chat with us, he also personally brought out our food, taking the time to explain his vision behind each dish. I realized how helpful that is not just for note taking but to also get to know the person in charge & behind the scenes. And, Chef offered to bring out his favorites so we didn’t have to decide what to order off the menu!
First came out the Tuna Tostadas and the Dynamite Roll. Both were excellent dishes, but the tostadas were definitely my favorite of the evening. I want to take a minute here to describe this dish because I absolutely wouldn’t want you to miss out on this if you were dining there. Crispy corn tortillas topped with line caught Albacore tuna rubbed with chili, topped with slices of avocado, jicama slaw and a few dashes of cilantro aioli on each. The lightness of the jicama and the minty flavors of the aioli went perfectly with the pure flavors of the fish, making this a refreshing & mouth-watering dish. Four tostadas on a platter that disappeared in a matter of minutes. Need I say more?
The sushi is also worth mentioning. I thought the shrimp roll was done creatively using mango, avocado, Sriracha mayonnaise, black sesame and unagi maple. The mango added a nice tropical touch to the roll while the sauces gave it a spicy boost.
Just as we were done devouring our appetizers, Chef Memme brought out their signature Bibimbap, a Korean inspired Rice Bowl. The dish was excellent and also came with a fun presentation. We watched as Chef poured the hot sauce, cut through the egg and mixed all the ingredients in front of us. Here is a video incase you’re curious to know the proper way to mix up this bowl of this yumminess.
What’s not to like about crispy rice and sautéed vegetables in a fermented soybean paste?! Chef Memme nailed this one!
Other notable items I tried were the Salmon and The Forager Burger. The salmon came glazed with an amazing brown sugar and Dijon mustard sauce. On the side, was an arugula salad, brown basmati rice and root vegetables. I loved that this dish was ‘winterized’ with seasonal vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes, perfect for the weather outside. The veggie burger which Chef thoughtfully sent out to accompany my guest’s cheeseburger, was a hearty mushroom patty topped with cheddar, caramelized onions and garlic mayo served on a sweet brioche bun. When I’m not pescetarian, I’m vegetarian, so I very much appreciate a well-designed vegetarian dish such as this one. Every bite was a delight and I didn’t feel left out as my guest ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ over his delicious beer-infused cheeseburger.
Since I had already surpassed any measure of gluttony by this point, I didn’t turn down the desserts that were served next. We got to taste all three on the menu; the gelato sundae, the key lime pie and the sticky chocolate pudding. My vote goes to the pudding however, which was a warm cake lathered in chocolate & toffee sauces, also known as… heaven in every bite.
What an unforgettable experience! Both the food and service were remarkable and the staff left no stone unturned in making us feel special. And I’m particularly excited about the restaurant’s ideology, which in line with sustainable fishing practices, and in serving quality meat. Their fish, I learned is flown in from Norway where the waters are known to produce some of the best fish in the world.
Hopefully my review has you scurrying to Earl’s Restaurant. And if you end up falling in love with it like I did, there are six other locations across the U.S. you can check out during your travels!
Earl’s Kitchen + Bar
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
Address: 1538 N Clybourn Ave a108, Chicago, IL 60610
Phone: (312) 929-3952
Hours: Sun – Thurs: 11:30am –12:00 am, Fri – Sat : 11:30am – 1:00am
Price: $8 - $39