* Click here for rating key
Earls Vancouver Downtown Test Kitchen Restaurant Review: The renovated and renamed Earls Downtown --- now Earls Vancouver Downtown Test Kitchen --- is still the kingpin of casual fine dining. It's also the launch pad for new dishes destined to filter out chain-wide. Six chefs --- BC's Dawn Doucette, Tina Fineza, David Wong, Hamid Salimian and Andrew Hounlsow and New York's Jeff McInnis --- bring the likes of barbecue pork buns, Mediterranean calamari, Vietnamese-style chicken, and Malaysian Hokkien noodles with red pork and prawns to the menu. Reliable standbys such as burgers, pizza and pasta are all there, as are Leroy's crispy dry ribs, dynamite prawn and mango rolls, Lois Lake steelhead salmon, plus steaks and chops. As always, everything is house-made, including the addictive sourdough bread, and there's an emphasis on quality seasonal ingredients. For desserts, try the chai panna cotta with hibiscus and pineapple or the chocolate hazelnut bar with salted caramel. Exclusive microbrews, inventive cocktails featuring freshly squeezed juices, and a wine list focusing on hot producers and regional strengths make Earls a rare breed among upscale chains. Enthusiastic servers are a bonus. And the actual Test Kitchen? It's at the top of the stairs and glassed in to enable plenty of peeking.