2401 4th St SW, Calgary
4th St SW in Calgary’s Mission district is almost back to normal. This Wednesday, when Earl’s Tin Palace opens its doors, only the James Joyce Pub across the street will be left to be resurrected after the Calgary Flood.The water was 4 feet deep in this legendary Earl’s spot. The past 7+ months saw the building ripped back to the studs and redesigned. A fresher, brighter, open space is now present with softer wood tones, innovative lighting, and a pace that is both relaxing and upbeat at the same time.
We were invited down for the ‘wet run’ night where friends and family of staff are seated at staggered times and then set menus are served. It’s a chance for the kitchen and bar to work through the entire menu, staff get a chance to work the room with familiar faces in the chairs, and it’s great way to have a soft open to get up to speed.
Earl’s Tin Palace is a place where new menu items are worked out and we were served up a few of them. My wife ripped in to a couple of chicken tacos alongside Earl’s classic caesar salad. No amount of brushing scrubbed that garlic out and I still had it when I woke up this morning. It may not be great for kissers, bu what a great salad!
The calamari has been re-invented in a great way. Yes, it’s still a crispy plate of octopus with tzatziki, but now olives, tomatoes, parsley, basil, radishes, and onions scatter the plate giving many more flavourful outbursts with each forkful. It was a treat.
This quinoa bowl with a thai curry is available with chicken, tofu, or prawns. We grabbed the chicken one and it was only “okay.” I like quinoa in salads at home, but when I cook with them in other meals, I only use quinoa as a highlight. To have it be the main grain in this dish seemed a little much and it had a hard time holding up to the curry sauce. I would have preferred this with a pad thai type noodle and quinoa accents.
Earl’s has changed so much in the nearly 25 years since I first worked at the store in Vernon. Everyone’s first job was at McDonald’s, our second was at Earl’s. Right?
Back in the day it was white shirts, ties, and paper mache parrots and penguins hung from the ceiling. Now the room is a perfect upscale casual mix, and the staff represent the look too. Pencil skirts with charcoal, burgundy, or black tshirts is the new uniform and I didn’t see any guys serving the tables.
I was fortunate enough to me Stan Fuller, the owner of the Earl’s chain. I shook his big hand and thanked him for giving me that part time job to help make ends meet when I was first starting out in radio some 25 years ago. Around that same time, Mohammed Jessa was a night prep cook at Earl’s in Forest Lawn. Now? He’s the president. It was great to meet him, as well as Chef Phil Gallagher, to talk about menu development and how something as simple as crumbs on a key lime pie matter. (We had a slice for dessert and while I would have expected toasted coconut on the chantilly cream, he said it didn’t work and they added pastry crust crumbs to give texture to the topping.)
Before the wet run, Fuller and Earl’s staff dropped off a big cheque at Calgary City Hall with a donation of 300 mature trees to be planted around the city.
Tell the world #yycisopen and now Earl’s Tin Palace on 4th St SW can be added to the list!
Here’s a video of the reconstruction work that had to be done: