There has been considerable buzz lately in the Toronto area dining scene regarding Earls, a recent arrival from the West. Several locations are now open, including one in the downtown financial district at 150 King Street West:
When I arrived at slightly past 11:30 am for lunch, the place was already an impressive 70% full. The atmosphere was casual but classy, and exudes the sense of a stylish place for influential people to unwind while taking a break from their deal-making.
My server introduced herself and took my drink order very quickly after I was seated. When she brought my Coke ($3, free refills) she also gave me a glass of water unprompted, which was excellent.
To start, I ordered the Clam Chowder:
It was nice and packed full of clams, bacon and vegetables. The taste was optimal and the thickness indicated high quality chowder – definitely no watering down going on here.
For the main course, I decided to go for the Bourbon Mushroom 7 oz Certified Angus Beef Top Sirloin ($25.50):
The steak was thick cut, and I asked for medium rare. Was it prepared correctly?
Of course it was! The outside was crispy but the inside was just as medium rare should be. The meat quality was excellent with all the juices one expects from Angus beef locked within. The mashed potatoes, mushrooms and asparagus were done perfectly as companions to the steak. Just one area for improvement: the gravy was a bit too salty and I found it to have distracted from the natural taste of the steak. For later bites I found myself “wiping off” the gravy on the plate before eating.
Service was excellent and with a bright smile. I already mentioned how my server provided water without prompting, and in addition to that she checked up on me at appropriate intervals so my needs were met without undue delay. I observed that all staff kept themselves busy with service, and evidence of good teamwork was visible.
Earls staff also stand out with a stylish dress code. Female servers wear little black dresses while males are in dark shirts and ties. Nothing is sloppy at Earls.
A patio is being built outside the entrance, and looks like it should be ready by the summer season. I recommend calling ahead if visiting during peak dining times, as the good word on this location is clearly getting around.
For a smart casual dining experience with high value for the money, I recommend Earls. A return visit is highly likely!