Friday, May 13, 2016

Pineapple & Pearls

Pineapple & Pearls refers to the "pineapple" as a symbol of hospitality and "pearls" as a symbol of elegance. The alliteration offers a sense of playfulness and fun. From the chef behind Rose's Luxury, this more elegant restaurant next door offers a playful tasting menu comprised of approximately 15 courses with beverages included (either alcoholic or non-alcoholic pairing, depending on your preference) for a singular ticket price that is all inclusive; tax, tip, food and beverages are included.  Closest Metro is Eastern Market.

Keith and I opted for the $250 per person menu that included alcoholic beverages to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary.  We came for the early 5:30pm seating on a Friday night, and were greeted with refreshing drinks of bourbon and ginger or an Aperol spritz.  We sipped them in the small entrance and were soon escorted to our table.  We had a nice view into the kitchen, where bar seating is available, and watched Chef Aaron and his team hard at work all night.

I must admit that the very next morning, we traveled out of a state for a friend's wedding and then left for a two-week vacation overseas, so I am writing this recap much later than usual and with limited memory.  I think I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

We started with Fennel & Absinthe Bonbon.  The liquid burst was flavorful and presented in such a pretty way, with the antique glassware.  A very elegant start indeed.

Masa Chip & Dip - corn chips stuffed with avocado was an interesting small bite.

Tempura Ramp Tops - had a light tempura batter, but it fell off the vegetable too easily, causing a bit of a mess. The concept outweighed the practicality in this dish.

As part of the "pearls" service, we were presented with only non-edible course - a washcloth to clean your hands.  It was in a gorgeous crystal square bowl and expanded as water was poured over it.  The infused flower essence gave a nice scent.  It reminded me of that scene in the Spy with Melissa McCarthy... "Cleansing My Palette".

We then segued into the appetizers with Roasted Potato Ice Cream with Ossetra Caviar.  This dish was briny and enjoyable.  It was a fun play on dipping french fries in ice cream, and one of my favorites of the night.

Turning towards the Asian spectrum we next enjoyed Matcha Soba with Snap Pea and Sea Urchin.  Again, the balance of salt was prominent in the dish.  Served in a pure ice cube, the noodles were chilled on the bottom and topped with fresh Spring elements.  We gobbled this dish up.

Next, we were presented table-side with Spring Garlic Egg Drop Soup.  This was the most bland of all the dishes, but nevertheless tasty.

Another star bite was the Blue Ribbon Bone Marrow Custard.  I was presented with a non-meat version with egg as the substitute.  Egg within an egg - how cheeky.

Fluke "Veronique" - a delicate sous vide of fish topped with equally delicate sliced grapes.  Simply elegant.

The bread course was served next - Toasted Rice Bread with Ginger-Scallion Butter.

White Asparagus Okonomiyaki was another delicious dish highlighting Spring ingredients and showcasing Japanese street food in an upscale manor.

The main entree consisted of Mole Smoked Beef Rib (Monkfish substitute for me) served with a variety of sauces, grilled ramps, and rice porridge.  The meat was tender yet substantial.

Spring Kakigori was a liquid nitrogen palette cleanser to take us into the desserts.

Pecorino Cake with Basil Gelato - a spin on the fruit and cheese course.

Chocolate Souffle with Crispy Buckwheat & Honeycomb Ice Cream.  A classic dessert to finish the meal.

We were also presented with a box of mini Chartreuse, Campari, Grappa & Nardini Donuts, that we saved to take home.  They made a nice boozy late night snack.  And we each had a cup of hot tea to settle our full stomachs before heading home.

The food was presented all in a fun and elegant way.  Each dish was small, but over time the multi-courses filled us up, especially with each paired beverage.  Service was uncomfortably rushed at first.  I am not not sure if they were trying to catch us up with another table who were ahead of us, but it was a little off-putting at first.  As soon as we took a bite, they whisked away the plate and poured the next drink pairing - oftentimes leaving us with 3 drinks to finish quickly.  I feel like I was not able to satiate each course, and missed out on some enjoyment.  Another minor mishap was the attention to the detail of my lefthandedness.  I have been to other fine dining restaurants who notice this right away, and subsequently arrange my flatware/drinkware accordingly.  This was missed as part of the 'pearls' experience here. I also noticed other couples who were celebrating some occasion (birthday, anniversary), which were acknowledged by the staff via a candlelit dessert, or special chocolate-written message. While I did not expect anything, Keith had mentioned it was our anniversary when making the reservations, so seeing other tables get a surprise, I thought we might too - but, alas, we did not.  Again, no big deal, but it was just awkward to see other tables get something when we did not.  No one likes to feel 'left out' and we were celebrating some thing special, too.

However, the kitchen did note my aversion to red meat and provided substitutes to the appropriate courses, which were fantastic.  Also, it was a nice gesture to send us home with a typed menu, hand-written note from Chef Aaron and some Flash-Brewed Ice Coffee and Pistachio Shortbread.  All in all, I am happy we celebrated our anniversary here. Albeit pricey, the overall experience and food was worth the extra coin.

UPDATE: This restaurant was awarded two Michelin stars in October 2016.

Total Rating: 4.5
Food: 5, Price: 3, Service: 4.5, Ambience: 4.5, Accessibility: 5
What Micky Eats...

Pineapple And Pearls Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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