The World is their Oyster: Earl’s Premier proves lucrative in first months open


Courtesy of Pixabay

Earl’s Premier packs the house every night by serving fresh oysters.

Will Baska, Staff Writer

With new restaurants, identity can be hard to capture. For some, it comes in the form of a flagship menu item. Many others rely on the atmosphere the magical property of time has bred into its walls. Yes, a unique identity is always the long-run goal, but for those riding the ever-tortuous road that is opening a restaurant, the main priority is finding something that sells, much less attempting to gain cultural notoriety. Despite this, it is achievable. Given a vision, a plan conceived in a storm of pride and passion, the magic of a good restaurant can be engendered from the get-go. Earl’s Premier, a new restaurant serving fresh oysters, is a prime example of this. 

Earl’s opened up in May of this year with a simple objective – bringing fresh oysters to Kansas City. They went above and beyond. 

Upon approaching the East Brookside establishment (which has been hiding less than a mile from my house for half a year now) I was immediately able to sense that this was a homey establishment. The narrow brick building stood in humble stoicism, inviting diners quietly with its mild rustic charm, all dainty and warm. 

The interior of the restaurant was not much more than a bar. A smooth mahogany, it is decorated with a simple yet meticulously arranged bouquet of drinks, lemons and utensils. Behind lies more bottles, lined with American flags that provide a sense of home greater than that of the business itself, successfully capturing the elusive idiosyncrasy that comes with being a pure and timeless slice of Americana. An elongated bench serves as the restaurant’s booth, with little tables lining the wooden pew. The interior is tight, but it is surely quaint, transporting diners to some charming reality, an America from another region and another time. 

Though the interior was attractive, I was greeted at the door with the declaration that my reservation was out on the patio. At first, nervous in a fervor of journalistic integrity, I wondered how I could prolong my stay inside. However, after being shown to my outdoor seat, I quickly became comfortable in the just-as-pleasant environment that surrounded me. In fact, after a few moments I began to think it was the perfect place to be. 

I was surrounded by cool evening breezes, warping silently around me as fiery leaves fell feet away from me and the sky swirled into kaleidoscopic sunset. Whether at all intentional or not, this autumnal bliss made it quite easy for me to disappear into my geographical imagination. Yes, I was caught up in some New England joint hidden deep in an eternally breezy valley, down from the Appalachians and high from the Atlantic, where good food and even better times are served in cyclical fashion — this was not too far from the truth.

Upon getting my menu, I was immediately overwhelmed by the captivating and somewhat bizarre descriptions and names used for the restaurant’s oysters. The restaurant has fresh oysters shipped in weekly, and because of the ever-changing nature of sea’s harvest, no two varieties will be the same. Earl’s embraces this fact, creating new menus every week, proudly flexing their crop with their strange names and even stranger descriptions.

I bought three varieties of oysters, originating from sea to shining sea. One was described as “Lusty,” the second “Meaty,” and the last “Sweet Carrot.” I had no idea what this meant, but radiating in excitement, I was ready to feast.

The order came out immediately. It was a bit shocking being used to the typical wait of dining in, but I was filled with pleasant surprise to see the testament of fresh seafood being served to me in Kansas City. Each one was beautiful, varying in size, jagged in the wrinkled imperfections of the ocean. Colors of creamy gold seemed to reflect a mild shine under the stringing lights of the patio, inviting me in their supple beauty to begin eating. 

They were served on ice, coming with the optional doses of malt vinegar and lemon. Each one had a slightly different flavor, and even if it was because I knew what they were supposed to taste like, I found myself relating to the meaty and carroty hints of the dish, while also learning whatever the “lusty” taste is – educational. 

I can say they were all great, and more importantly, they changed my perspective on what an oyster is. Each one really seized its own identity in size, appearance and flavor. I truly believe embarking on such simple fine dining adventures really is something that proves more lucrative than one would think. It brings a certain comfortable exhilaration that one can only receive with an experience like that.

Though I went to the restaurant to enjoy a taste of life outside the historical cowtown I call home, I suppose I just can’t help my position as a prairie boy. Yes, it was steak night. Yes, without even thinking about it, I found myself ordering a steak. Though it was no fast food like the oysters, it came out with impressive speed, arranged in a beautiful contrast of spring green and autumn harvest. The cut was nothing too special, but it was good for what it was, making up for what it lacks in tenderness with wonderful flavor and perfectly executed doneness.

The service was spectacular. My cup was always filled with water, and I was regularly checked on. Still, I definitely did not make the waiters job hard, finding myself in a most comfortable state. The heaters from the patio came down softly as jazz from the speakers greeted me with gleaming ambiance. It was simply a relaxed environment, and that goes a long way when talking about a good restaurant. 

I won’t lie, Earl’s is not cheap. For an uncultured midwesterner like myself, the price I thought was heavy came as a bit of a shock. Given proper consideration though, it really is not too bad. There is simply no other establishment in our general region, let alone city, that offers the dining experience Earl’s so quickly mastered. To be eating fresh oysters uniquely conceived out of the salty depths of our country’s oceans is a value worth paying if you find yourself willing. 

All in all, I left Earl’s Premier happy, content not only by the food, but the wonderful atmosphere the juvenile establishment was able to assemble. There is no doubt in my mind that Earl’s will succeed in the long run. To be able to bring such a concept to our neck of the woods, and do it with such efficiency, is an instant formula for success. I live very close to the location, and the profusion of cars lining up and down the residential streets appears to be nothing but testament to this fact. Immediately attempting to possess an identity in the restaurant business is always a risk. For Earl’s Premier, it was no problem. They showed what it meant to flex their mussels and create a top tier dining establishment.