Amendment: JOSHUA! I FOUND YOUR CARD!
On December 8 Michael and I were invited to Earls Kitchen + Bar (formerly known as Earls Tin Palace). It was a celebration for Earls 30th Anniversary (yes, you ARE that old), and the new fresh look it is offering its new and old guests.
We were greeted as if movie stars. Doors open, coats taken, met immediately by a visiting manager Joshua from Toronto (I found your card!!!) given a personable and personal tour of the kitchen, dining room, bars and even the washrooms.
There was the paparazzi wall to our photo taken properly like. There were the cooking crew looking smart in their whites in the kitchen. There were the pretty Earls girls doling out food to us like the fat Ukrainian baba’s they don’t look like. Trays of mini-burgers (I reject the term “slider” from my vocabulary), pretzels to make Philadelphia jealous, wood fired pizza, tuna nachos to name a few, and an open bar.
An open bar. Not only was I feeling nostalgia for years gone by and some experiences I’ve had at Earls, but here it was an open bar! I was in heaven (and before you frowny face me about alcohol and driving, let me say that Earls own Cate Simpson was very proactive in encouraging us to take cabs or leave our cars in a secure lot and cab it home), and despite the fact I wanted to drink every cocktail on their menu, we both behaved ourselves (even though it required great resolve as Earls has the BEST and most DELICIOUS raspberry martinis in the land).
The new interior is warm and inviting. Good old, oldie-worldie incandescent bulbs illuminate the place like candle light. They have cleverly designed beaters from mixers as lights fixtures, sexy curved booths that will remind you of old 1950 style Rat Pack movies, space to move, and places to be intimate. So intimate in fact, that you can have your own private washroom to do what you will. Of course you wouldn’t. But I’m just saying, it is that private (and affords more space than an airplane washroom in case you have experienced the same cramp-inducing maneuvers any mile-high club member has done). *cough*
As we were taken through the kitchen on our tour, I was anxious about being in the way. Things behind the scenes are timed with precision, and I did feel like bull in a china shop. People were whipping around to and fro, and any image I ever had of me working in a restaurant kitchen were dissolved. You need the agility and speed of a gazelle to keep up. I’ll keep myself safely placed in the proverbial Serengeti. And like any lioness, sun bathe on a warm rock and wait until supper time when I’ll go out (to Safeway) and buy supper and cook in a kitchen were no one would dare tread while I’m in there creating.
The food was very good. The new design was warm, welcoming. But what impressed me most? The staff. Our first host (from Toronto), started as a dishwasher and was groomed to work his way through the ranks to be a manager. I marveled at this, and he pointed at many others in attendance with the same story. I was gobsmacked. In an industry that has people come and go, here was a place that offered its staff a career.
I expressed this sentiment to Bus (Earl) Fuller when I had the chance to meet him. You could see he was very proud of this, and explained how he supports this and how it has made Earls what it is.
The evening hit its apex with the auctioning of one of those famous parrots, with the proceeds going to the Zebra Child Protection Centre. Who won the bid? None other than Bus himself. Whatta guy.
If you haven’t been to Earls in a while, please go. You will be impressed. You will feel comfortable. You will like the food. There is a promise. Your experience should always be the same. You should be greeted in a certain amount of seconds. Your order will be placed, cooked and served with precision timing. But the promise is, the experience is yours. Whether you are in for a quickie lunch, or wanting to linger with cool drinks while sitting in the open window on a hot summer’s night along Jasper Avenue, you will be made to feel at home.