Cheer & “B”s


Earl’s Beer & Cheese | 1259 Park Ave. (Bet. 97th & 98th Sts.) | 212.289.1581 | earlsny.com | | | |

WALKING UP PARK AVENUE, I looked at each building, reminiscing about all of my friends from prep school who used to live in them and how I used to visit them in their tony little Park Avenue apartments after classes. Our teachers used to always tell us students that study together—though doing homework separately—would help better our grades. I then lived way up in Morningside Heights, so a large portion of any scholastic excellence I could claim was bourne of many impromptu study sessions with classmates who lived on Park, as well as the rest of the Upper East Side.

Waxing academically nostalgic, I took it upon myself to give “grades” to anything within my periphery, awarding “A”s to some of the buildings’ architectures, “B”s to some of the pedestrians’ attires, as well as a “C” to the just short of oppressively hot weather.

Once I got just north of 97th Street, it took me a few extra seconds to spot the restaurant-sparse area north of 96th Street’s new, quaint restaurant, Earl’s Beer & Cheese. Inside, the space was even smaller than I had seen otherwise pictured on the internet, yet very homey, if part quirky, in its décor, and immediately warm, cozy, and friendly with charming staff.


Earl's Beer & Cheese

Earl's Beer and Cheese

Earl's Beer and Cheese

Earl's Beer and Cheese

Earl's Beer and Cheese

Earl's Beer and Cheese


It was warm inside, temperature-wise; although the was an air conditioner mounted above the front door, it was not in use, and as I started to go through napkin after napkin wiping by streaked brow, I wondered who untenable the area would be with just the addition of three or more bodies. They didn’t even have a cold non-alcoholic beverage for me to cool off with, but very much to their credit, one of the staff volunteered not only to go next door (to Winston & Tee Express Jerk Chicken) to get me a can of Coke, but did so ought of his own pocket.

I was here for a first visit for one thing, their grilled cheese sandwich with N.Y. State Cheddar, kimchi, fried pork belly, fried egg, on toasted sourdough. It’s exactly the kind of menu item curiosity that I seek out, and sounded like enough of a meal that I wouldn’t have room for their equally appetizing mac ‘n’ cheese with goat cheese, rosemary, and shredded chicken.

Fortunately, the kitchen were kind enough—gratuitously so—to bring me out some of their housemade beer-cheese, this particular spread made from house lager, N.Y. State cheddar, and sriracha sauce and served with toast rounds.


Beer Cheese (Spread), Earl's Beer & Cheese

Earl's Beer and Cheese

Beer Cheese (Spread), Earl's Beer & Cheese


Yummy, smooth, sharp, spicy, creamy, deep with flavor, and bolstered perfectly by the crunchy bread. And although I would have preferred the lager’s taste to have been more prominent, I would still love to have this at home all the time.

Then it was time for the main event.


Grilled Cheese, Earl's Beer & Cheese

Grilled Cheese, Earl's Beer & Cheese

Grilled Cheese, Earl's Beer & Cheese

Grilled Cheese, Earl's Beer & Cheese


My initial concern was how in the heck were they going to have the cheese and kimchi work together, since cheese is never featured in Korean cuisine. Well it worked surprisingly well, the kimchi serving as a feisty slaw, kicking up the cheddar’s sharpness, while the fried pork belly added a great crunch with its crispy edges, and grounding the sandwich with its flavorful fat and added saltiness. The egg’s warm runny yolk adding some welcome silkiness and richness.

The sandwich’s only setbacks were that some of the egg white weren’t completely cooked through, as I personally prefer them, and some of the grated cheddar hadn’t fully melted, which I expect from any grilled cheese. But all the tastes were very much on point, and the crispy chips worked well as not just a side for the sandwich, but as a vessel to scoop up the remaining beer-cheese spread still on the table.

If I were giving final grades, I’d give the ambience, the beer-cheese spread, and the sandwich all strong “B”s. Add an “A” for the very friendly and personalities of the staff and service, and I can easily see enjoying their mac ‘n’ cheese in the very near future.

And I will definitely be going back to give their unique sandwich a well-deserved second chance.


Grilled Cheese, Earl's Beer & Cheese

Bun Apple Tea!

.kac.


Earl's Beer & Cheese on Urbanspoon


Earl’s Beer & Cheese | 1259 Park Ave. (Bet. 97th & 98th Sts.) | 212.289.1581 | earlsny.com | | | |



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