Earls Kitchen + Bar
As Tysons Corner becomes more of a go-to and live-in destination, numerous eateries abound, and among the more desirable destinations is the newcomer, Earls Kitchen + Bar. Reservations for lunch or dinner, and probably weekend brunches, guarantee patrons a table or booth. Otherwise, folks can hang out at one of the bars—the Old-Fashion mini bar specializes in bourbon, and makes a comfy waiting space.
First impressions of Earls certainly underscores its modern glamour and spectacular layout, all encased in wrap-around glass windows with an umbrella’d side terrace for alfresco dining. Once inside, patrons are greeted with effervescent staff who seat arrivals with great courtesy. If you are lucky, grab a seat near the open kitchen so you can watch the numerous cooks pulling it all together. And studying the interior setting with its differing accents and artwork might distract from the all-important task at hand: studying the food and drinks menus instead.
What to Drink: Of course, patrons find plenty of fine wines and beers, but the craft cocktails capture the imagination. What is the Bees Knees, you wonder? It’s a swirl of aviation gin, Cointreau, honey, and Angostura bitters. Best bet: let the waiter talk you through the cocktail menu. Otherwise, you won’t get the inside scoop on rating the specials.
What to Eat: And then there’s the food. Ask about the daily specials, and if the warm kale salad and the Korean-inspired bibimbap (a vegetable-rice bowl with a choice of tofu, chicken, steak, or prawns) show up, add these to your order. Indeed, finding a bibimbap on a basically Western-focused menu confirms that Earls’ chefs search the world for outstanding fare. If you have never sampled this intriguing meal-in-a-bowl, packed with flavors and textures, add it to your order and plan to overeat.
But don’t skip a detailed study of the regular menu, which includes multiple courses, from starters and soups and salads to steaks, main plates, a variety of burgers, and several sandwiches. Where to start, you wonder. Well, word is that the tuna tostadas—chili-rubbed fresh tuna wrapped in crisped corn tortillas with jicama slaw—and the “dynamite” Dynamite Roll with shrimp, mango and avocado are among the first choices for starters. And if you are feeling a bit extravagant, add on a plate of truffle fries drizzled with truffle aioli. Oh, and maybe a plate of crispy-crispy calamari garnished with thinly sliced jalapeños and presented with a Greek yogurt sauce.
What’s next? That depends on whether you want to go light with the Caesar salad—and yes, it contains anchovies for a traditional salty kick—and a bowl of Earls’ renowned New England clam chowder. Or if your appetite rules, a very tender steak—filet mignon, sirloin, or New York striploin—garnished with a demi-glace could solve your dilemma.
If steak does not tempt, try, instead, one of Earls’ burgers, composed of all-natural Black Angus beef, served on a house-made brioche bun with a side of fries. Perhaps the most compelling burger choice is the Royale, topped with beer-infused cheddar, bacon, and Portobello mushrooms. Speaking of which, vegetarians can get their own “burger”, the Forager, made from a roasted mushroom with cheese, onion and tomato aioli. Or perhaps a sandwich with a side of fries is the answer. Outstanding is the chicken, brie, and fig sandwich with roasted apples and spinach.
Dessert choices, presented with the restaurant’s motto “Life can always be sweeter,” are limited to the Gold Digger, a chocolate gelato sundae; a peanut butter skillet cookie with salted caramel and chocolate chips, and the real door prize, the sticky toffee chocolate pudding. Again, word has it that this is the restaurant’s A-1 treat, and it surely is gooey and delicious.
What’s the score: Earls Kitchen + Bar is a primo destination in Northern Virginia. Its food plus décor are drawing in the crowds. Why? The Tuna Tostadas (Earls sells about 2500 pieces a week) and the flamboyant Royale with Cheese Burger.