Ah yes, Earl's... The bane of my eating existence for many, many years. Ever since it opened it's doors, I always had it in my mind that I was getting ripped off every time I dined there. The haunting memories of a pitiful steak with 5 button mushrooms and a dollop of mashed potatoes for $25.00 never seemed to fade. Yah, it became the butt of my jokes and complaining for quite some time. Every time I was dragged kicking and screaming by my friends as I tried to convince them to eat somewhere else. Hey, I'm not saying I hated the food at Earl's. It's merely that it was one of the worst values around. It's another one of those "chain restaurants" that people were willing to go time-after-time. Well, tonight we met up with Wolvie and Italian Stallion for dinner at Earl's. If you would've guessed by now, Italian Stallion has the the eating diversity of a Yak (they mostly eat grass). Mind you, grass would be too exotic for him anyways. So no Korean, Japanese, Indian, Thai, Malaysian or Vietnamese... Yah, in the GVRD, that practically eliminates 75% of the restaurants.
So here we are at Earl's. If you were present, you would see the displeasure exuding from my slumped shoulders and defeated stance. Honestly, I have no problem with chain restaurants per se. They serve a purpose. It's generally "safe" food which should be consistent throughout the chain (theoretically). Furthermore, if you wanted to get a big group together, chain restaurants fit the bill. There is usually enough space and variety in the menu to please most people. Now, the problem I have with going to a place such as Earl's is the lack of originality. Yes, the food can be quite good, as in the case with Cactus Club. I have a problem with the prices. Yes, I understand there are operating costs associated with such a large operation. Staff, equipment, decor, raw materials and other operating costs do factor into the price. I remember watching something on TV about Earl's and how much goes into each dish and the profit margin is not really all that high. Yes, I get it. But for roughly the same price, you can go to independent restaurants that offer something more original and better value. Alright, enough of my ranting...
We started off with the Warm Spinach and Feta Dip. As described in the menu: spinach, artichokes and a blend of cream cheese, mozzarella and feta, served with toasted olive oil drizzled flatbread. Honestly, the dip was quite good with a nice creaminess to it and plenty of cheesiness. I particularly liked the crispy flatbread. It was a welcomed change from tortilla chips. Feeling guilt from eating a burger for lunch, I opted for the West Coast Prawn Salad with chopped avocado, fresh strawberries, feta, quinoa, candied pecans, julienne carrots, organic greens and baby spinach, citrus honey vinaigrette, warm sauteed prawns. Although it was a bit bland, I sorta liked my salad. There was no shortage of ingredients, especially the quinoa. In retrospect, there might've been a bit too much going on since it was a bit hard to eat.
Viv had the Chicken Club with grilled chicken breast, dry cured bacon, tomato, lettuce, mayonnaise, house baked ciabatta. A pretty good sandwich with moist chicken, crispy bacon and a slightly crispy bun. The fries were crispy and light, albeit a bit generic. Wolvie and Italian Stallion shared a Hot Chicken Caesar Salad and Sicilian Pizza. Not a whole lot to say about it other than it was not overdressed and the chicken was moist. With capicolla, the pizza was indeed savory and spicy. Every bite was very flavourful and the crust was a bit chewy. I actually liked the pizza; not bad for a chain restaurant. So I guess this statement sums it up nicely. The food at Earl's is not bad. It's pretty much middle of the road - not offensive; but it won't blow your socks off. The prices seemed to have held steady all these years and thus, it's not outrageous. Mind you, it ain't cheap either. Personally, if I had to go to a chain restaurant, I'd pick Cactus Club over Earl's. But with that being said, Earl's is okay as a safe choice for those who are not adventurous or if you have a large group.
- A little something for everyone
- The food is decent
- Service is solid
- Some items are a bit pricey
- It's not kid-friendly; but there were a lot of kids present (maybe give in and make it kid-friendly?)