Friday, September 20, 2013

First and Last Meals in Alberta!

Like everything else, when I plan a trip for us, I check out possible restaurants in the areas we’re visiting.  I look for a variety of dining experiences…diners on up to upscale restaurants and everything in between. 

I like to use Trip Advisor for my research…and I look for restaurants where the ratio of Excellent/Very Good reviews to Poor/Terrible is no worse than 10 positive to 1 negative. ( Of course I also read a few reviews to learn what negative issues were encountered and when.  If service was a problem in 2012 but it’s been all upbeat in 2013, the problem was probably fixed.

This is Earl’s Restaurant on McLeod Trail SE in Calgary Alberta Canada…one of several locations in that city.  As it turned out, this Earl’s location wasn’t well rated and according to Trip Advisor’s latest reviews, it still has service problems.  However, it was close to our hotel and we were tired…se we gave it a try.
Earl’s has roughly 64 restaurants in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and the Yukon in Canada, plus Washington and Colorado in the USA.  It’s all about casual but comfortable dining.

This isn’t a great photo…but Earl’s does provide a nice atmosphere for socializing and dining.  The restaurant was quite busy.  Given the number of negative reviews I’d seen on line for this location we were a little apprehensive.
We received a friendly greeting at the front door and we were promptly seated… So far, so good!

This was our order of garlic bread. ($4.25) I'd eaten one piece but it was still overpriced…even for Canada…and it was just ok.

We started out with Earl’s Clam Chowder. ($7.00) It was made with cream, baby clams, bacon and some garden vegetables.  While it wasn’t the best chowder we’ve ever had, it was very good and we both liked it!
Our waitress was Karly… She was very helpful, personable and attentive. Both Laurie and I noted that almost everyone working in this restaurant was attractive, whether they were male or female.

I have to admit that I took this blurry photo all by myself… This was my entrée.  It is the Cajun Blackened Chicken. ($21.00) The chicken was seasoned with Earl’s blackening spices and garlic butter.  This entrée is normally served with warm potato salad and coleslaw, but I’m not a potato salad fan so I asked our waitress if I could substitute with garlic mashed potatoes.  As you can see, it was no problem.
Yes, I know!  $21.00 for a chicken dinner is a bit steep!  We had to wrap our minds around the higher prices for just about everything Canada.  My meal was good if not great…about what I expected.
Laurie ordered a personal pizza for her entree… There will be more about that later in this blog.  This was the first of two Earl’s that we visited while exploring Alberta…

Yes…this is another Earl’s Restaurant.  This one is also located in Calgary…this time near the airport.  Yes…we ate dinner at Earl’s on our first day in Alberta and on our last day as well! 
This Earl’s location met my 10:1 Trip Advisor criteria with 39 Excellent or Very Good reviews vs. only 4 Terrible or Poor. 

Patio dining was an option but we generally prefer sitting indoors away from flies, heat and any nearby traffic.  It was a bit early but the patio was already busy when we arrived…

For our second trip to an Earl’s dining establishment…our last day on this trip…we each had a beer and a Caesar Salad to start out. ($6.75 for the beer and a starter salad for $6.50) The Caesar salad was very nice…quite satisfactory indeed.  It consisted of romaine lettuce, fresh grated Grana Padano parmesan, brioche croutons and Earl’s signature Caesar dressing.

This is WHY WE RETURNED TO EARL’S FOR OUR SECOND TIME!  Laurie had ordered this pizza for her entrée in the first Earl’s we’d eaten at.  It was so good that we wanted to come back and experience this fabulous pizza creation again before heading home to East Tennessee.
This is Earl’s Italia Pizza. ($15.00…and we each ordered one!) This pizza is described as a hand tossed thin crust pizza with “Virginia ham, salami and chorizo, provolone cheese, parmesan, fresh basil and San Marzano tomato sauce.  The ingredients were top notch, the tomato sauce was just right, the spices were perfect and the crust was thin, crispy and it held up when picked up.
Laurie thinks that this is the BEST PIZZA she’s ever had and while I’m not willing to go that far, I will say that it easily ranks among the Top 5 pizzas that I’ve ever eaten.  Given my age and waistline, that equals a lot of pizzas!

This young lady was another major factor in the enjoyment of our last dining experience in Alberta.  Her name is Alex.  She played basketball for the University of Calgary.  She had to be one of the most popular team members among the other players.  Alex has a terrific personality!  Friendly, efficient and smart…she will go far in life…
Earl’s Restaurants worked out well for us.  The wait staff was helpful and efficient, the food ranged from OK to Excellent and the restaurant’s themselves were clean and well kept.  Should you find yourself in Canada…especially western Canada…or in Colorado or Washington states, check them out for yourself.  Be sure and try the Pizza!  Website:
Just click on any of the photos in order to enlarge them...
Thanks for stopping by for a visit...and another restaurant review!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. I love garlic bread and clam chodwer!!
    look pretty!

  2. It all looks good to me! Alex is cute too!

  3. Sounds like fun, that pizza sure looks good! Have a nice trip back to Tennessee. My daughter loves garlic bread!

  4. Dear Dave, I bet it takes quite a bit of convincing to wrap you mind around those prices! but if the food is good,
    I am glad Laurie like her pizza that much to go back again.
    Blessings, Catherine