Earls Kitchen + Bar
Brunch Is Served
Saturday, Sunday, Holiday Monday.
To me, Edmonton is a brunch kind of town. At least in my circle of life, I have friends who like to hang out and catch up on a lazy weekend morning over food and coffee. Unfortunately, I don’t always enjoy these from a culinary perspective. The food often ends up so loaded with the hip-fat-of-the-moment that it’s hard to enjoy every bite as my heart slowly clogs. Equally as bad, the other end of the spectrum finds food so plain Jane, that I might as well make a better version at home. So when I received an invite from Earls Kitchen + Bar to check out the launch of their new brunch menu, I was intrigued. I’ve been very impressed with the Earls branding of late as well as the renovations to their flagship Edmonton restaurant. Would their brunch menu live up to my expectations?
Happy to be back in the warm environment that Earls has created, I grabbed a mimosa at the door and met many of the staff that would be serving, cooking, and otherwise providing us with what we needed during our meal. As they delivered a tray of warm Cinnamon Buns (something every visitor will be receiving as a complimentary start to brunch), it was clear from the energetic excitement that the team was ready for us to experience the new menu.
First up was Sourdough French Toast – Chantilly Cream, Berry Puree with a side Pure Maple Syrup and Whipped Butter. Before digging in, I was excited. As baker, bread lover, and all around self-proclaimed yeasty connoisseur, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been let down by restaurant bread choices. I’m not talking just everyday chains here either, many high-end restaurants treat bread as a secondary thought. However, here I was looking at a house-made sourdough bread. As I sliced into the perfectly cooked bread, I ran through my mental checklist. Crusty exterior, check. Open, chewy crumb, check. Touch of tang, check. Adding some maple syrup to my plate of toast and it was heaven. You might like pancakes. You might like waffles. I like french toast with rustic bread and berries. Earls, you’ve have won me over and then some with this. Well played.
Next to arrive was the Frittata – Field Mushrooms, Grape Tomatoes, Goat Cheese. Arriving to the table in a hot, no make that very hot, cast iron pan, the nicely portioned frittata was presented alongside a very green (and well contrasted) rocket salad. Sizzling away, my enthusiasm got the better of me and I scooped a massive piece of hot egg into my mouth. Silly Chris! Once I let things cool down, I enjoyed the hidden chunks of goat cheese and sautéed field mushrooms. Nothing over the top here. A simple, well prepared frittata that I would order again.
As the Croque Madame – Virginia Ham, White Cheddar, Roasted Serrano Cream, on house Sourdough arrived, I wasn’t sure what to think. I’ve been absolutely spoiled by the Croque Monsieur at Tartine Bakery & Cafe in San Francisco. If you’ve never been, buy a ticket right now and be thankful that I’ve planned your first breakfast in the Bay Area. As the table vocally pondered the heat level of the roasted serrano peppers, I did a typical Chris thing and jammed the entire thing in my mouth. Knowing the heat would be eased off by the roasting, I happily accepted a second serrano and kicked off my first bite of the dish with a double dose of BAM! Again, the bread stole the show for me. This time however, the thinly sliced ham and soft poached egg made for a shining example of a true Croque Madame.
As I apparently opened up a massive black-hole in my stomach, I finished the third plate and started to realize I was the only one committing like a crazy person. I blame it on the great bread, you know me! Truth be told, I was starting to feel a little heavier when dish four arrived, Chorizo + Mushroom Hash – Poached Eggs, Crispy Fried Potatoes, Avocado, Field Mushrooms, Hollandaise. Easily the richest dish of the morning, the stellar mixture of fats from the avocado, chorizo, egg yolks, and deep fried potatoes made this very decadent. As I gobbled away, I couldn’t help but picture this being the perfect hangover dish. Oh, and the deep fried smashed potatoes. Amazing.
Dish five was the quote, unquote healthy option. Every brunch menu needs this kind of dish so that your plaid wearing, monocle rocking, granola loving friends can find comfort in something fresh and delicious while you consume those deep fried potatoes I told you about. Granola + Yogurt – Flax, Rolled Oats, Dried Cranberries, Sultanas, Toasted Almonds + Pecans, Fresh Berries. What I love about this house-made granola is that they serve it with a side of agave syrup. Meaning that you get to control the sweetness of the dish. Want to balance the sour tang of the Greek yogurt, just kick it up with agave. This is often a level of control missing from sweet dishes and I loved it!
7 cups of coffee and a few mimosas later, the chef presented the last brunch item. Eggs Benny – Virginia Ham, Hollandaise, Grilled Sourdough. I’m not a benny fan by any stretch of the imagination, but again…to beat a dead horse. The bread. The potatoes. You’ll ask for more. Unless you’ve eaten the entire menu. Then you’ll pay the bill and leave happier than when you came.
Slowly removing my self from the table, I sauntered into the sunshine and decided that eating like a king was the easily best decision of my day. There is no clearer way to say that Earls has done very well here. The menu is concise, beautiful, tasty and well priced. I know that this is where I’ll be suggesting the next time I need catch up with friends over brunch. If only the weekend would come sooner…