Over the last few years we have been watching the changing face and modernization of the Prudential area in Back Bay, Boston. The Pru now has a sleek, glass fronted entrance way from Boylston Street leading into the mall while the new sprawling Mario Batali’s grocery store and eateries, Eataly next door flows through to the walkways of the same upgraded shopping center. Part of this transformation was the closure of Legal Seafood and the most recent opening of Earls Kitchen & Bar.
Earls is a huge chain with restaurants across the US and Canada with the opening of the Back Bay location being its 66th. Everything at Earl’s is made from scratch and having dined at their Assembly Row location a couple of times I had no doubt we would be dining well, I just wasn’t sure how it would go given the restaurant was barely a week old when we made a reservation.
Meeting my friend’s Barbara and Karen there for a bite after work last week, we started with a glass of wine in their small bar, which offers fun cocktails and bar bites in the downstairs of the restaurant.
At 7pm it was time for our dinner reservation. We were escorted upstairs to their enormous dining area, which can be quite surprising the first time you see it because if you are like me you have no idea the little tiny bar downstairs would be the entrance to a 14,000~ square foot dining area and patio with a retractable roof and a huge tree filled with lights. On this Wednesday night Earls was a bustling buzz of excited restaurant staff and eager diners. We were seated in one of their booths and were immediately waited upon by our enthusiastic and genuinely happy waiter.
The Earls menu is slightly different in each of their locations with the Back Bay offering choices of the current “it” food of avocado toast, sushi rolls, noodle and rice bowls, steak and burgers and main plates of heartier dishes. There is literally something for everyone’s palate. We were very excited.
We started with sharing delicious creamy sriracha spiked avocado piled high onto toasted baguette slices. If you don’t like food with a hard kick of spice you may have to speak up. I happened to love it!
The Maui Ahi Poke, which we also shared brings wonderful little bites of sesame crusted tuna with the mildly sweet tastes of mango and chips on the side if you want to add another texture to your mouthful.
For my main dish, I picked the swordfish tacos. Spicy blackened meaty white fish on flour tortillas with just the right amount jalapeno to not overpower the actual taste and a side of field green salad, which brought more than a limp side salad. I was super happy with my choice.
Karen picked the Bibimbap which is a hot stone bowl filled with ingredients of rice, carrots, mushrooms and topped with a soft poached egg. Karen requested shrimp instead of the menu listed Korean Beef and they were only too happy to oblige. Mix the ingredients together and enjoy a taste sensation bowl of flavors and textures, at least Karen did!
Barbara picked a dish on the lighter side of the Quinoa and Avocado Powerbowl. Colorful portions of squash, beets and chickpeas lend themselves well to diners who want to be a little healthier and not go with a boring non-descript salad.
Our meal was not quite complete and really deserved an ending with some applause and we got it with the sticky toffee pudding of richly moist cake and creamy vanilla ice-cream sitting in its own candy snap basket. SO GOOD!