Monday, January 19, 2009

Pearl - Bellevue

Sunday Evening D and I decided to try out Pearl, the new hip restaurant in Lincoln Square across from the Westin. We walked down around the Lincoln Square to the entrance where the music was extremely loud. The front entrance was interesting, dark and mysterious with a random rock and tear glass art piece in the tiny area between doors. We walked into the seclusion of the modern Pearl. The extremely sultry looking hostess was polite as I looked around she asked us if we would like a table. The place was quite slow as I saw maybe 5 tables in there.

The interior was a bit eclectic. I say that in the nicest possible way but the top half of the restaurant was gorgeous inlaid wood and the rest of place reminded me of 70's chic and not in a good way. Everything was made to look expensive and all of it combined, looked cheap and fake, with sheer curtains and gray decor everywhere, it was to put, very austere; but the hostess was pleasant enough so we sat down.

We received the menus and got down to business. D noticed a few appetizers that looked appealing but couldn't really drool appropriately over the entrees'. We ended up deciding on a Roasted Heirloom beets salad that sounds exciting and interesting with the greek feta and he decided on the House Salad.

As anyone knows the house salad should be unique to the restaurant and I think make a statement of what they want people to think of when dining in their establishment. Unfortunately it made me of think of overpriced and oily lettuce with random chunks of tomato. Even the blue cheese vinaigrette that when made properly should explode in people's mouth as they try to lap up every bite of it, was oily and dare I say commercialized. The lackluster vinaigrette overpowered the delicate and buttery Bibb lettuce so much that you should have been eating the overused mesclun mix for all you could taste. It saddened me to see such beautiful ingredients be abused in such a way.

I was excited for the Heirloom beets, a wonderful treat as not enough people use them to their full potential and when done well are so sweet they are like candy.

The salad looked pretty, although for a beet salad was lacking beets! I counted 4 chunks of beets and mound of mesclun greens. I hopefully take a bite of the lettuce to taste the brightness of the citrus vinaigrette and came crashing down to the ground with the amount of salt and oil in my mouth. I look up at my partner with dismay, it was so salty so I try it with the beets, alas no citrus there either, and just one dimension roasted beets. And, even though the beets were deliciously roasted, they were not enough to save the salad that was almost $10! I was so disappointed and that started the slowly winding path downward.

We tried bravely for the second course. D ordered the Juniper Braised Pork Shoulder with warm potato salad while I did the Pan-roasted Free-range Chicken with wild mushrooms and instead of the fries with it, I did the caramelized onion smashed potatoes, both were recommended by our server as excellent choices.

They came and executive chef knew how to present! The two courses both smelled wonderful and were glistening from their sauces.

I thought this can't be that bad, I noticed the sliver of fresh mushrooms and while I usually prefer chunks of them to get the full earthiness I didn't discriminate. I tried the potatoes and was slightly disappointed they had no flavor, just chunks of what seemed to be undercooked potatoes that were slightly bitter. I sighed and went bravely onward to the chicken. The chicken was cooked perfectly, moist and pink and just swimming in the natural jus. I take a bite, closing my eyes to lean in and savor…my eyes popped open. The amount of garlic in the sauce made my eyes water, I tried another bite, no good! Garlic! Everywhere garlic was seeping from every morsel of chicken and mushrooms. I take it all apart trying to find the sweetness of a free-range chicken, but alas they smothered it all with the overpowering jus.

My partner liked his pork shoulder but knew where he could find a better one for a 1/3 of the price. I tried a few bites and was disappointed to not even taste the junipers, the pork while cooked brilliantly was still very greasy and not flavorful at all and the warm potato salad was just subpar.

I couldn’t even try for two desserts so we just asked for one. We went for the White Chocolate Banana Cream dish; it was suppose to be a pastry cream with shortbread cookies, fresh bananas and a butterscotch sauce.

It came, again presentation was nice, but the piece of dried banana on top left much to be desired, and don’t even try to eat it, as it was chewy and wafer thin. I keep thinking the shortbread cookie should be good, and I’m sure it was if you like bricks! It was the hardest thing to break without pieces fly across the table and the cream was so sweet it overpowered the butterscotch sauce, which as we know is hard to do. It was so lackluster I didn’t even try to finish it. Once you got the cookie in your mouth it was tasteless and hard.

Our server while polite and nice was a bit of a flake, disappearing for long moments and then not bringing the things we asked of her. It seemed to me they took more time in getting the pretty girls/boys in there and not so much experience, I dare say I thought I was surrounded by models the whole time.

Overall I give this place a C- and don’t plan on going back.

Pearl Bar & Dining

Lincoln Square

700 Bellevue Way NE, Ste 50

Bellevue, WA 98004

T: 425-455-0181