Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dinner at "Earl's"

Monday night we dined at Earl's.

My mother, yes she's still here, really wanted to take wife and I out for dinner while she was here. My mother likes Earl's, don't know why but she does, so we chose Earl's for the dinner out. Auntie Margarethe was roped into caring for daughter and with Mother, and older sister, in tow we headed out to our local Earls.

It was game seven of the Stanley Cup final so the noise level around the entrance , and bar area, was higher than usual (who the hell goes to Earls to watch a hockey game ?) but I was able to convey our desire for a table of 4 to the hostess who promptly led us into the diningroom. I asked for a free standing table, as opposed to a booth, as I prefer the freedom of my own chair to bench seating and we were given our choice.

Menus are placed, so large that 4 barely fit on the table, and what menus they are - adorned with pictures of young girls just havin' fun. I see no correlation between the menus and a restaurant but that's OK, sister comments that the menus look like "magazine covers in a bad hair salon". Server arrives and takes drinks order, then brings drinks and water in timely manner.

A short discussion ensues as Mother wants Alfredo sauce with Seafood, which sounds easy enough as they have a "Shrimp Alfredo Penne", Pasta A, and a "Mixed Seafood Penne in Spicy Tomato Sauce", Pasta B. I explain to server that my mother would like the "Seafood" from Pasta B with the saucing from Pasta A and no chilis - it takes a while but we get it figured out.

Dinner orders are placed and I ask server for a moment with the winelist, housed in the giant hair salon menu. Server departs and I determine that, since wife and I will be the only ones drinking, a 1/2 litre of red will suffice - 1/2 litre is ordered.

Dinner arrives, wine not in sight. A monstrous bowl of penne in Alfredo sauce with no chilis, a chicken dish for sister, a quesadilla with salad for wife and a full rack, 11 bones, of ribs for me. Tastes are had, wine not in sight, and pronounced fine - more on that later- wine finally arrives. Dinner is finished, my rack of ribs were perfectly cooked yet had virtually no flavour, and monstrous hair salon menus returned for "Dessert Menus". Desserts are ordered by 3 females and a cappucino for me.

Desserts arrive - HUGE all brown presentations of Ice Cream Sundaes and a "chocolate sticky bread pudding" that tastes remarkably like the packaged brownie mix wife uses for kids birthday parties. Desserts are mostly consumed and bill arrives.

1 beer, 1 softdrink, 1 1/2 Litre of wine, 4 entrees (1 pasta, 1 quessadilla), 3 monstrous mounds of ice cream and brownie mix and a cappucino............... $130. That's right $130, now I know the economics of the restaurant better than most but I'm sorry the value just isn't there.

Earl's, and their offshoots, are regularly lauded as shining examples of "casual fine dining", one local writer talks of European restauranteurs falling over themselves to resurrect the concept in "the old country". I have a piece of advise for the Euros - stick with the bistros and trattorias.

Earls felt as tired as an old hair salon and for $130 just nowhere near the value I could have received in any smaller regional restaurant on the Main Street stroll. There was nothing innovative or exciting in the room, time for a change Earl.

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