Earls Kitchen + Bar Spring Menu Tasting
Casual fine-dining has always been a big thing in Winnipeg (actually, for most Canadian cities for that matter) with the Earl's franchise generally at the top of the game.
A main reason for this is offering a little bit of something for everyone, while remaining fluent with restaurant trends. A case-in-point has been the recent launch of their Chef Collective through their Vancouver-based test kitchen, where award-winning and acclaimed chefs have been adding their own dishes to Earl's eclectic, cross-Canada restaurants.
The results, along with adhering to high ingredient standards -- like Ocean Wise certified seafood, along with beef that is raised without antibiotics or added hormones -- have made for top-notch dishes that are sure to be crowd pleasures.
Recently, we sampled a smattering of these new dishes at Earl's on Main. And if there is one thing we can tell you about these well-composed dishes, it's that they will continue to make Earl's on Main one of the busiest spots in town.
For starters, the tuna tostadas -- which features seared chili rubbed albacore, cilantro aioli, avocado and jicama slaw on crisp corn tortillas -- are a lovely marriage of textures, acidity, and fatty goodness from the fish and avacado. They are just about all you could ask for in a starter for the summer time while combing them with one of their new cocktails, perhaps the Amaretto Sour -- which features Bulleit rye, amaretto, lemon and meringue foam -- then you've got the perfect way to end your business day out on the patio.
Another standout dish is their twist on bibimbap, that Korean classic. The untraditional Earl's version, which isn't topped with kimchi, was developed by renowned Vancouver chef David Wong and is a pretty outstanding.
The crunch of pickled zucchini and pearl onions, along with the umami element of sautéed oyster mushrooms, melds so well with the marinated strip loin while the jasmine rice bottom (whose outside layer gets crispy from the piping hot stone bowl it's served in) and soft poached egg makes for a ridiculously delicious mixture of textures and flavours. You get creaminess from the egg, pungent crisp bites from the pickled veg, and toasty bits of rice, while you also have to pour on the suped up gochujang sauce that is spicy and full of fermented flavours.
It's good fun to eat too as you jam in your chop sticks and mix it all together, creating a tasty little symphony in a bowl.
We also did some steak sampling, from their range of cuts from Alberta's Spring Creek Ranch. Spring Creek has a pretty cool story; the fourth-generation ranch is currently run by daughter Kristin Kotelko (its always been in the Kotelko name), who herself was at one point an Earl's girl, while the ranch features Canada's first BioRefinery which takes the cow waste and converts it to BioFertilizer, Green Power and ethanol. (You can read more about it hear; it's pretty cool).
Anyway, as previously mentioned it's high-quality beef, and the samplings we had were all full flavour, and really quite tender.
Other new menu items included new drinks like the Bee's Knees -- which features Hendrick's gin, Cointreau, honey, fresh lemon and Angostura bitters (it was refreshing to note how there is no bar mix or other pre-made nonsense in their drinks); a lovely Moroccan salmon which got a nice boost courtesy of a smoked paprika oil, and a refreshing and colourful Lebanese-style fattoush salad.
To top off the tasting we tucked into a berry shortcake, a light and summery dessert that is an ideal end to a meal now that the weather is warm.
Note: the feature image is Earl's Moroccan salmon, which features smoked paprika oil, chermoula, pearl onions, peas and Persian cauliflower.