Spreading from our neighbor to the north like some kind of maple-leaved kudzu, Earls Kitchen + Bar (1457 N. Halsted St., no phone yet) is scheduled to open this fall not far from the North/Clybourn Red Line stop. The location joins five already open elsewhere in the United States and 58 in Canada.
Earls, named for a father and son who both have the middle name Earl, calls its menu “global,” and reading it feels like visiting the United Nations. The menu at the Denver location, for example, offers sushi, curry, burgers, bibimbap, fish tacos, fettuccine Alfredo, kung pao noodles, clam chowder, barbecue ribs, and steak.
Each location combines core items such as the Santa Fe chicken salad (blackened chicken, feta, avocado, black beans, dates, peanut-lime vinaigrette) and Dynamite Shrimp Roll (shrimp-mango-avocado maki with sriracha mayonnaise, black sesame, and unagi maple) with dishes customized for local demographics and ingredients. Ryan Stone, an executive chef for Earls, says Chicago’s menu will feature black cod with Singapore curry and lime-scented rice. “That helps us to stand out,” Stone says. “We are doing so much cooking from scratch.”
Earls’s beverage director, Cameron Bogue, says about 80 percent of the beer choices will come from Chicago’s craft breweries, and the cocktails will skew classic, like old-fashioneds or (with a dash of kitsch) grasshoppers. Drink specials will rotate seasonally, beginning at the fall opening with the Silly Wabbit, a concoction of vodka, Lillet Blanc, Cointreau, lemon juice, carrot juice, ginger syrup, and cardamom bitters.
So we’ll be getting one of Canada’s most successful chain restaurants. Seems fitting, given that we already have their hockey trophy.