[Pigging by Wilfrid: September 13, 2012]
This was a trip which might have turned into a review, but didn't turn into much of anything at all. Earl's Beer & Cheese has garnered much positive press over the last year: the Times spoke of "serious ambition."
It's attractions certainly seem unmatched by anything else in the immediate neighborhood -- that steep stretch of Park Avenue where Metro-North rears above the tarmac and heads into the upstate distance.
I'm not there much. You'll find me on East 79th, or on East 110th and up, but between the two? For me, Earl's was a destination. I was led there by prospects of the "Earl's Eggo" -- a fabled mess of Cabot Cheddar, foie gras, and syrup on a waffle. Didn't get one.
Earl's opening hours vary, but it closes at midnight (2am at weekends). Arriving for what I'd call a late lunch -- certainly in daylight hours -- I was told they were all out of the "Eggo." Place was empty, by the way. Maybe there was no "Eggo" that day to begin with. Maybe they gather the ingredients after the sun goes down. Whatever.
There's not much else except beer, cheese, and grilled cheese. From a choice of Cheddar, Brie, and Mozzarella, I chose Brie. Not just Brie, though. Brie with blackberry mostarda (yes, a bit like jelly) on brioche toast. The white sheet, unmentioned on the menu, unexplained, and flavorless, seems to have been rice paper (why?).
It wasn't expensive at six bucks, but -- for me, at least -- this was a long trip for a grilled cheese sandwich. Especially one where I wished I'd asked them to hold the jam, hold the rice paper, and substitute rye for the brioche. The cheese was okay, though.