Pearl restaurant + bar
631-633 Church Street
Ph: 9421 4599
This post has become one of those ones that sit in your draft folder for months and months and months, never being completed for some reason, sitting there watching as other, newer posts are put up before it. As it has been such a long time since I first went to Pearl and took these photos my descriptions of each dish may not be in a lot of depth; however what I do remember distinctly is being blown away by the tastes, the thought and the care that went into each dish. I’ve been back twice since that first visit in May 2010 and I would have to say that Pearl is right up there in my list of favourite places.
Coddled egg toasty with Hervey Bay scallops and Yarra Valley salmon caviar, snipped chives and whole egg mayonnaise (approx $20)
One of Pearl’s ‘famous’ menu items; a beautiful, creamy dish with complex flavours; almost like a tasting plate of different textures and tastes.
‘My tartare’ of Hopkins river beef, beetroot shoots and quail egg yolk, soldiers (22.5)
Not one person on our table of six had tried steak tartare, and we decided this would be a good place to try it. I’m so glad we did, and that my first tartare experience was an excellent one, with the freshest meat, balanced flavours and great texture when combined with the toast soldiers.
Wagyu minute steak, buttered spinach and Portobello mushrooms, spicy tomato jam and onion rings (32.5)
Roasted red duck curry, crisped fried egg, shallots, mint, sweet fish sauce and coconut rice (38.5)
An incredibly impressive dish not only in terms of the flavour and the presentation, but the thought that has gone into it and the way it is presented to you. Our waiter placed an empty bowl in front of me and explained how to tackle the dish: combine the rich, coconut-y rice and the red duck in the bowl. It’s then up to you how you want to use your crisped fried egg; I was informed that some patrons like to mash the egg into the dish. I enjoyed it simply sliced and mixed through, so the crispness of the white was still there. Once you’ve assembled your bowl, you can season to taste, with chili, lime, fish sauce, mint and red onion, and if it all gets a bit overwhelming, there’s a stick of wombok to cleanse the palate. I loved the concept; the idea of assembling your own dish gives you a special feeling, a kind of ownership of it, because you get to make it just how you like it. I also love it for the way it is designed to stimulate all your senses: there’s hot and cold; sour, spicy, sweet, bitter; very soft and very crunchy textures, and then there’s that thoughtfulness in including the stick of wombok.
Steamed broccolini with oyster sauce and sesame ($11)
Even the greens here are incredible.
One side seared sashimi grade yellow fin tuna, sweet smoked fish salad with sunflower shoots, galangal and kaffir lime, young coconut and lemon oil (46.5)
Freshly shucked Clair de Lune natural oysters with nam jim of tamarind and lime granita (4.5 each)
Quail san choi bao with lup cheong, water chestnuts and longans, served with crisp iceberg lettuce cups (29.5)
Boned whole garfish, wrapped in rice paper and hot mint, stuffed with spicy pork and sticky rice, mam nem with crushed pineapple and chilli (32.5)
Leaf salad with organic balsamic and Cobram Estate extra virgin olive oil ($11)
Hand cut chips with mushroom and garlic salt ($11)
I’ve sampled a fair percentage of Pearl’s menu and I just want to go back for more. I want to go to Mud Crab Night and I want to spend a lazy Sunday morning having brunch at Pearl Cafe. I’ve enjoyed some beautiful bottles of wine here, and there’s not one dish on the menu that is unpleasant or bland. Service is always spot on; staff are polite and formal, but not stuffy or uptight. They have personalities. And Pearl not only has beautiful, thoughtful food and competent bar staff, the venue itself is part of what makes the experience so good: it’s sexy and dark and, despite the formally dressed, professional wait staff and sleek interior there’s a very relaxed feel.
Larissa Dubeki, in her November 2009 Epicure review, recommended: “Go for the pearl meat and the red duck curry, if you’ve never been before. But go again (and again) for the rest.” I completely agree; there are a selection of dishes you must try if you only have the chance to go once, but the creativity and thought that goes into the flavours, textures and overall experience of the meals will leave you thinking about each dish long after the meal is over.