Earls Kitchen + Bar: Good Food, Cocktails in Honey Bears at Dadeland Mall

Earls Kitchen + Bar, another addition to Dadeland Mall's new terrace dining wing, opened this week. The restaurant joins Bobby's Burger Palace, Aroma Espresso Bar, and Balans (which is set to open today).

If you haven't heard of Earls, it's probably because you haven't spent much time in Canada or the Pacific Northwest. Earls, you see, is a well-established chain with a head office in Vancouver, and the Miami location is the restaurant's first foray into the eastern part of the United States. According to Cate Simpson, communications director for Earls, the company scouts out locations that seem like good fits, and Dadeland's new dining wing seemed a perfect match.

What can you expect from Earls? Sadly, we couldn't find poutine on the menu, but we did find just about everything else. It's a hodgepodge of items. Ceviche, salads, burgers, ribs, curry, pizza, and tacos are all on the menu, which, thankfully, is not spiral-bound.

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When we arrived to sample some of the items, the place was hopping. Clearly, the Kendall/Pinecrest area is starved for new places to eat and drink, and the mood is lively.

Cocktails at the bar are especially delightful (and affordable), with libations made with fresh ingredients (a fine change of pace from the usual undrinkable, sugar-laden concoctions usually proffered at even the better chain restaurants). Our favorite: the Bee's Knees ($10), served in a honey-bear-shaped glass.

Another whimsical offering is the Cabin Fever ($10). An homage to Canada, it's made with Crown Royal, tawny port, ginger, pineapple, fresh lemon, and bitters and served in a mug with a pine cone garnish.

The food, prepared by a seemingly endless number of chefs (we counted more than two dozen people prepping and sautéing in the open kitchen), was plentiful. The restaurant is clearly trying to be everything to everyone, which is what works in a mall environment. A bonus: Most items fared better than expected.

Dry ribs ($11), though not too photogenic, are an addictive little bar snack. Pork ribs are hacked into bites and then rubbed with coarse salt and lots of cracked black pepper.

Harvest greens ($6.50/$9.25) are bright and colorful with the addition of watermelon radishes.

Barbecued pork, served on pillowy steamed buns, was sweet and tangy.

After a long day of shopping, sitting on the restaurant's terrace with a Bee's Knees and a serving of sticky barbecued pork buns is a good way to unwind from the stress of maxing out your credit cards.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

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