Recently I was contacted by a representative for the Pearl Hotel, inviting me to check out their restaurant and the dining menu created by their new executive chef Jason Burke.
As guests of the Pearl, we were given a partial discount on our meal and were able to make reservations (which they don’t normally take).
I’ve been curious about Restaurant at The Pearl, after I hearing about its Wednesday night “dive-in” theatre, where you can dine by the poolside and watch movies projected on a big screen above the pool.
The hotel is advertised as a “cozy vintage-meets-modern boutique hotel.” To be honest, with a name like “The Pearl” paired with a menu that look promising, my image of the hotel was quite different than my first impression.
In the fading daylight hours, the hotel appeared small and worn and more casual than I expected.
The restaurant is basically a lounge by the pool. Complete with a bar, there is both seating near the poolside, as well as seats in the interior of the hotel. We were given a cozy table close by the poolside.
The larger tables had decorations of seashells which I really liked. I also enjoyed the view of the pool, though the flotation rings were a little distracting.
Our server was extremely friendly and helpful, and we chose a few different things to try out as much of the menu as possible.
As we settled down, my initial discomfort with the hotel began to fade. The pool, warm evening weather, and casual lounge atmosphere brought back memories of my time in Hawaii.
FH started off with a cocktail:Mai Tai Part Deux.
The drink was quite strong. Possibly one of the strongest drinks we’ve ever tasted on a night out.
Next came our appetizers.
Bacon wrapped dates served with cheese fondue
I enjoy dates and I enjoy bacon. The bacon here was very crisp, which is how I like to eat mine. Wrapped around these dates, these were quite cute. I do wish there was more of a melding of flavors. I couldn’t taste the bacon on the date and vice versa. However, when dipped in the side of hot cheese sauce, it did help to bring the two ingredients together.
Accompanying the plate of dates was a side salad mixed with pickled carrots and radishes, much like the kind you will find in asian cuisine. I found it refreshing and delicious.
We also ordered the macaroni and cheese, which is one of the dishes that changes daily. On that night, they were serving a jalapeno and bacon macaroni and cheese.
The macaroni and cheese was very creamy, with generous chunks of bacon. I couldn’t stop eating it and it was my favorite dish of the night. The only criticism I had was that the jalapeno peppers, while visibly apparent, had absolutely no kick whatsoever. They might as well as been chopped up bell peppers.
For my entree, I spied a seared scallop served on a bed of saffron risotto and my heart was set on it.
The scallops were seared perfectly, but were a tad salty. The risotto, unfortunately, was extremely salty. I wasn’t able to eat more than a few bites.
FH chose the Seasonal Ravioli, another menu special that changes daily. That night, it was stuffed with rabbit liver. We were surprised by this unique offering and decided to check it out.
The first thing FH did when he got his dish was count the ravioli. He loves ravioli but doesn’t like to order it at restaurants as they often serve only three or four. The servings were more generous at The Pearl, and FH counted six ravioli in his plate.
The ravioli was slightly undercooked, causing the pasta to be harder than it should. I prefer my pasta to be al dente, but this was a little too hard to be considered that. The inside was quite bitter, like pure liver usually is. It was fine for me because I’ve grown up eating liver on its own, but for those who are expecting something like foie gras, they may want to stay away.
I had a hankering all day for fries, so when I spotted “pomme frites” as a side, I decided to order it as well.
Now Pomme Frites may be just a fancy way of saying French fries, but it also conjures an image of fancier french fries in my opinion. I imagined thin cut fries, golden and crispy, perfectly seasoned, perhaps with some herbs and Parmesan and maybe some truffle oil if I am lucky.
What we got was quite disappointing. The fries were thin cut, but were quite limp. The picture came out better than what appeared in front of our eyes. The fried appeared dehydrated, lacked crispiness, and were quite bland and underseasoned. FH likened them to the fries at In-N-Out (which I think taste like cardboard. Sorry to those who enjoy them.) While I think these fries were a step above those of In-N-Out, they definitely were the biggest disappointment of the night. The serving size was big, but most of it was wasted.
As the night began to grow dark, we noticed that The Godfather was silently being played and projected on the big screen, giving us a sneak peek of what their Wednesday night Dive In Theatre is like.
It’s always a bit awkward when you are brought in as guests of a restaurant and aren’t completely thrilled with your meal. But I believe in writing honest reviews. We appreciated The Pearl’s efforts to continue to improve the restaurant and make it innovative and unique. The Wednesday Dive In Theatre sounds like a fun experience, and we like the casual, poolside atmosphere. The menu, while it was more misses than hits, does show some promise, especially with unique offerings like rabbit liver, and fresh daily specials. Hopefully things will continue to improve.
Restaurant at the Pearl
1410 Rosecrans St
San Diego, CA 92106