Earls Kitchen (Tysons Corner, VA)

The interesting thing about business travel is that sometimes it takes me to some truly neat places. Sometimes it takes me to, well, offbeat locations that have their charms. And sometimes it takes you to… malls. That was the case with a Navy client, who periodically requires me to come to a briefing in… Tysons Corner, Virginia. Which is basically several upscale shopping malls all in close proximity. Which instead of my usual, quirky destinations, often means several days of… chain food. But that said, sometimes I do encounter a chain I like. You can read my old reviews of Shake Shack from back in the days when Shake Shack only had a few locations, and for the most part I think their product actually holds up. And there are other chains I still particularly enjoy, like Wagamama. So a trip to the mall isn’t always bad. And in this case, I found a smaller chain that I actually rather enjoyed: Earls Kitchen.

Earls is actually a Canadian chain, based out of Edmonton, Alberta, and the chain now has close to 70 locations, but only a handful of those have arrived in US locations. The menu is based upon sustainably raised meat and seafood in a menu that I’d call a mix of “North American Fare” (well, I’d call it “American” aside from the Canadian ownership) and “Asian Fusion Cuisine”. It’s rather an eclectic mix, but I’ll have to say, I’ll actually enjoy a place where I can get, say, a Moscow Mule, a good American craft beer, a Caesar salad, and a good Kung Pao chicken. Which, as chance happens, was actually my order.

And I’ll have to say, they do a rather pleasant job with their food. My Moscow Mule was a nice copper mug served up with a pleasantly gingery ginger beer and fresh lime. The beer selection was a rather nice cross-section of mid-Atlantic breweries. And my food? The Caesar salad was a nicely assembled, not-overdressed, and very crunchy version of a classic. And my “Hunan Kung Pao”? While a distinctly Westernized version of what’s actually generally a Sichuan dish, this was actually a really flavorful dish: a rich mixture of chicken, peppers, and vegetables served over a nice bed of noodles with fresh roasted peanuts and a really pungent pepper sauce. Authentic? No. But delicious? Indeed.

So yeah, it’s not always bad when life takes me to a mall. Earls was a pleasant and friendly break from my business travels.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply