I know what you have been wondering, why doesn’t Earls have an apostrophe?
Earls Kitchen + Bar Lincoln Park (1538 North Clybourn)
is a family-owned Canadian business named after generations of men whose middle names are Earl. So, the restaurant is named from a group of Earls.
Now that we have pushed grammatical queries to the side, let me introduce you to a Canadian upscale chain restaurant that, if I had eaten at in Canada this fall, I would have liked Canadian food.
I attended a complimentary dinner party for Earls grand opening.
The Ambiance: Chicago Jazz + Street Art
One of the many great restaurants at New City shopping and dining plaza in Lincoln Park, Earls placed extra care in its first Midwestern restaurant for its October 2015 opening. This is Earls seventh restaurant in the United States and the 64th in North America.
Each restaurant is carefully curated for local flavor and flair. Earls is classy and creative, and layered with warmth and kindness from its staff.
The casual, yet upscale dining experience is elevated by Earls recreation of the best parts of Chicago into its open layout.
When I walked in, I immediately wanted to go to the outdoor patio. It was intimate, yet open and best of all it was warm.
Inside, the bar is wide and had ample space for your food and drinks. I like this section of the restaurant because on the wall they have cutouts of trumpets that were hand-crafted into a music note. I’m still wondering which music note, but it was aesthetically pleasing.
It felt like I was experiencing jazz in the park.
I learned that the tables were made to look like park benches because Chicago is well-known for it’s beautiful parks and the many music festivals it has during the summer.
We looped back around to the main room. Our eyes met a Blues music collage.
Before entering into the main dining area, there is a second bar to the side and a lounge area with comfy, vintage-looking furniture.
During my meal, I sat in between a view of Earls open kitchen and a painting from Chicago street artist FRESH.
I love how Chicago-centric this restaurant is. Yes, they used a Vancouver artist, Ricky Alvarez to create the trumpet installation, but they really captured the heart of Chicago.
Ugly Holiday Sweater Happy Hour:
This winter, while you are sitting on an indoor Chicago park bench, Earls is spicing up its happy hour with holiday festivities.
Monday through Friday, 3 – 6 pm from December 7th – December 30, 2015, Earls will be hosting an ugly holiday sweater happy hour. The best ugly sweater will be chosen to win a $25 gift card.
The Cocktails: Creative + Cozy
Now that you have been invited to a holiday party happy hour, you need to plan your perfect drink.
If you like to look at your cocktail as much as you like to drink it, Earls is your place. They put a lot of effort into introducing creative cocktails, not only in taste, but also in presentation.
There are two particularly sweet cocktails. One of the favorites of the night, but not at our table of seven, was a frozen raspberry bellini. Two other neighboring tables ordered it. While, it looks delicious, it was a bit sweet for us.
I gravitated towards a special lemon meringue cocktail. Note, it’s not on the menu. The Senior Sous Chef, Jovahn Sandhu, told us it was his favorite, so I had to order it. Sure enough, I set a trend for the table and after tasting mine, others started ordering it.
The cutest cocktail, and one that is light enough to sip on all night, comes in a bear shaped glass. It is called Bees Knees.
I have to say, I don’t like Old Fasnioned’s, but I loved this one. It was perfect with my skirt steak. The Old Fashioned is made with Makers Mark bourbon, Demerara sugar, rootbeer bitters and of course a cherry.
While I haven’t tried it, the Century Sour cocktail comes with a special message inside the glass or maybe holiday decor. Messages have included “flawless” and “don’t drink and date.” You’ll have to order it at the ugly holiday sweater party to find out.
The Food: Globally Inspired
Oh my goodness, the food surprised me. There were traditional sandwiches and salads and burgers, but what caught my eye was the chef specials that are inspired from global dishes.
My favorite a special Korean dish, Bibimbap. It was so flavorful and unlike any Asian dish I have had before. I do favor Korean food, though.
Bibimbap. Photo: Amanda Elliott
I also liked the Argentian inspired Chimichurri skirt steak. The dish came in a hot skillet. Rather than focusing on a full feast, the chef emphasizes the main dish and curates the side dish around it.
Chimichurri Skirt Steak at Earls. Photo: Amanda Elliott
The best starters were the Tuna Tostadas, crispy chili rubbed albacore tuna, creamy avocado, cilantro aioli, radish on a fried tortilla chip.
The other is Leroy’s Crispy, Dry Ribs, which are presented in nice, small, salty bites. We ate the whole plate, which is probably why we couldn’t finish our dinner.
Leroy’s Crispy, Dry Ribs. Photo: Amanda Elliott
I agree with the Elite Yelp reviewer, Kevin “Misterkevin” N.
, who recently went to Earls New City location on December 4, 2015.
“The surroundings, service, and food quality, however, are best in class. For an upscale chain, Earls is as good as it gets.”
Earls has a charm to it. It has a vintage furniture, a unique Chicago interior feel, and what’s best is that it has an outdoor fireplace that is both romantic and yet, perfect for larger parties. In November, I was warmed by the fireplace.If you only were going to order
one drink, get the Bees Knees cocktail. It is cute for Instagram pictures and it complemented most of the dishes quite nicely.
For appetizers, order the Tuna Tostadas. If it is still a special on the menu, order the Korean dish. It’s so good. And it fills you up.
While you can order dessert to go, unless you are ordering a pie, I would eat it in the restaurant. I had peanut butter cookies to go, which came with vanilla ice cream. It tasted fine, but warmed, and properly presented, I think I would have liked it better.
Earls won me over with the ambiance. It’s a perfect date spot with outdoor fireplaces and cute craft cocktails.