In welcoming media to a preview last night, Feb. 9, three days before the doors open to the public, owner Bus Fuller, quipped, “It’s surprising what people can do when you give them enough money,” referencing the $6-million cost of the 10,000-square-foot space.
The swanky restaurant, which fuses New York’s edge with Vancouver’s laid-back attitude, features 225 seats and an expansive bar area. Come spring, the restaurant will feature an outdoor patio. “We’ve softened the concrete feel of being outdoors in the city by using vegetation and other natural elements to create an environment made for lingering,” said Tanya Klarich, lead designer from e+design + construction, Earl’s in-house design company, of the outdoor space.
Locally grown and seasonal produce, cooked from scratch by a culinary team that travels the world for new ideas, is at the forefront of the award-winning company’s success. “Nothing is more important than the quality of the ingredients,” said Fuller. All of Earl’s sauces, dressings and baked goods are made in-house daily using fresh, clean products by skilled bakers and sauciers. “It takes more time, but the end result is worth it. It’s an investment we’re happy to make,” said Fuller.
Curious media who attended the preview were treated to a sampling of some of the restaurant’s signature dishes, including its popular clam chowder, spicy seafood linguini, ribs and cajun chicken and salmon with brown sugar and mustard glaze. The eight-course extravaganza was paired with a selection of high-quality wines, including the chain’s popular Whatchamacallit Chardonnay as well as Joel Gott’s Zinfandel from California. Winemaker and owner Gott travelled from the Golden State to be part of the festivities. The fifth-generation winemaker has gained recent attention for his focus on producing wines in alternative packaging such as Tetra Paks. He told media the packaging has been best received in Canada. “By establishing relationships with certain vintners and keeping our selection focused, we’re able to buy wine at a better price,” explained George Piper, Earl’s director of Wine Experience. “We pass this value onto our customers through our one-price wine philosophy and well-priced reserves. We believe wine should be approachable, never intimidating.”
Ranked among the 50 Best Employers in Canada for four years running, Earl’s began in Alberta and now features 62 locations across the country and in the U.S., including two others in Ontario: Mississauga and Burlington. A new Ontario location is expected open near the Colossus Theatre in Vaughan in early May.