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Earl’s Arrives in Bellevue

I’ve talked about Earl’s before.  Actually more than once.  Earl’s is a Canadian chain that has a big menu, big portions and big wine pours.  I especially love their dry ribs – something that does not seem to have caught on here in the U.S. even though you can find lots of variations just north of the border.  Besides ribs they do several other things very well.  And if you are dining with a group there’s going to be something for everyone. 
On New Year’s Day I met a friend at Lincoln Square for a movie and we noticed a sign in the lobby indicating that Earl’s is now open.  I didn’t even know they were coming!  Apparently they’ve been open a couple of months.  They occupy a space at Lincoln Square that has always been empty.  They’re on Bellevue Way just south of the Container Store.  After the movie P and I decided to grab a quick bite at this new location – we’d been in Whistler in November where I had introduced her and MO to the Earl’s there. 
The space they are in is huge! As are most of their Vancouver locations.  They were actually quite busy on New Year’s Day.  I’m not sure if that was due to the holiday or if they have already caught on with the local Bellevue crowd. 
How wine at Earl’s is normally served – this is at the Whistler location
We each ordered a glass of wine and decided to split a crab roll (all portions here are pretty large).  One of the things I love about Earl’s is that their wines by the glass are actually a glass and a half.  The server will pour some in your glass and then leave you with a little carafe with the rest.  I love this – probably unreasonably so but something about the whole idea really appeals to me.  So, as usual when our wines arrived the server poured some wine in each of our glasses.  We tasted it to make sure it way okay and then she dumped the entire carafe into the glass!  She mumbled something about it was better this way so the wines could breathe. 
Uhm. Okay.  But so very wrong.  Not that the wines wouldn’t benefit from a little air but by filling the glasses there was no room for a proper swirl.  I was heartbroken.  Okay, not really heartbroken but disappointed.  Suddenly the fun had gone out of it, although I still managed to enjoy my wine.  The only thing I could think of is that they are short on carafes and this must be their way of getting them back to the bar and into circulation as soon as possible.  Silly people.  Next time I’ll be prepared and if I have to I’ll stop the server from dumping the entire carafe. 
Our crab roll was great, although after we replied in the affirmative when the server asked us if we wanted soy sauce and more wasabi it seemed to take a very long time to arrive.  My guess is they are still working out all the service kinks.  Especially with the size of the place many sections are quite far from the kitchen. 
I actually have mixed feelings about their arrival in our area.  When I’m in another country I want to find things there that I can’t find at home.  Although Canada is "just up the road" and we share many things with them, I still like to find some unique experiences there.  For instance, ever since Lush moved to our area I’ve hardly bought their products.  They were always one of my little British Columbia treats and now they are no longer special.  However, I am happy that I’ll be able to pop over to Bellevue to get dry ribs now and then.  
If you are looking for a casual place with good solid food you might want to give them a try. 
Earl’s Restaurant & Bar
Lincoln Square
700 Bellevue Way NE
Suite 130

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