Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Erling's Variety

Happy New Year! The first thing I did when the clock struck 12 was kiss my best best friend forever, so things have started on a high note. Then I partied hardy, returned home, thanked the babysitter, slept a tad, fed Summer, greeted the girls, and made a hangover smoothie (ginger, banana, peanut butter, pineapple, ice)-- all before 9 a.m. In short, it has been an energetic start to this new annum. The next thing I did this year, though, was thoroughly indulgent and relaxing.

My mum, baby Summer and I finally made it to my best friend's new restaurant, Erling's Variety, in the Glebe. Kaylee's husband Liam (Hi, Kaylee! Hi, Liam!) opened it in December after long months spent preparing his masterpiece. I am a completely biased and wholly unqualified to evaluate restaurants professionally, but here is my take on this new, fantastic eatery.

First of all, it is a delight to the eye. It is surprisingly bright for such an intimate space, and filled with pieces that all have stories. I spent my first moments just letting my eyes dance from one thing to the next: An old mill wheel, used as a light fixture. A relative's modern paintings hung around the room. The banquette is worn wood floor panels from Liam's childhood home, floors that his baby sister walked on before she was taken by childhood cancer. The restaurant is named after and inspired by his maternal grandfather. I don't pretend to know half of what it takes to open a restaurant, but I do know love, and this place radiates it. 

I need to talk about the food. I admit to being easily impressed by most food I don't have to make myself, but this was lush. The menu was veritable food porn. Mum ordered the wild mushroom benny and some chocolate mousse-type dessert. I ate: the California eggs benedict, topped with house guacamole and pico de gallo, expertly smashed potatoes, salad with a refreshing vinaigrette that was also somehow creamy, a side order of bacon and a piece of peanut butter chocolate pie with cranberry garnish for dessert. Even exhaling all of that in one sentence is tiring. Then I imagine preparing it all: Liam said they go through at least 200 eggs every brunch!

The meal was made even better by the perks of knowing the owners: Summer was carted off from my first sip of tea until my last bite of pie. She danced on tables, did crunches on the bar, stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirrors and came back to me when it was chow time.

Food break for Summer, who opted to dine off the menu.
In the hour and a bit I spent dining, I saw six other people I knew. This was both a convenient way to wish a Happy New Year to some of my friends in person, and a warm feeling of community.

This place has almost everything: hot tea and coffee for cold hands (like today! Brr!), colour harmony, eye-catching textures, a great wall themed to be an old variety store with a modern spin, fancy menu items, comfort foods, loud laughter, a former rapper who has chosen a stellar soundtrack, frothed milk! Heck, it was even the setting for a secret wedding! The only things missing are a- you (and your friends, and their friends, and their friends) and b- a liquor license. 

Yup, these guys were pressed to get this machine off the ground and running before they could risk waiting much longer and losing staff, resources or local interest. I'm told the license won't be long, but in the meantime, wouldn't it be cool to go eat there, so you could say you were one of the first customers once the restaurant explodes in popularity?

I've known many people with big aspirations and idealistic visions for their futures. I've heard, "when I grow up … ", "I'd love to have my own business, where I … ". This guy is not the ellipses. He's one of the few people I've known to harbour this kind of dream and make good on his promise to himself to do it. On today, this day of resolutions and goals, here is the story of one man who is doing it. I am inspired and counted myself lucky today for this real life reminder that big, daunting dreams can come true, when you're willing to put in the work.


  1. I grew up in the Glebe! I'll have to try out the restaurant next time I'm home for a visit! It looks like a really great place. Also, thank you for your support with my new blog!! The privacy settings only let me invite readers by putting in their email address. Mine's elizaoverthemoon(at)gmail(dot)com. Could you please email me yours? I know we emailed ages ago when you did a guest blog for me, but I think that was my old address and I can't get into it anymore......x


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