I was a fan of Black Pearl in its old incarnation as a hole in the wall (literally) in the back of Julep. I went several times and enjoyed the fried belly clams, the greens and the general ramshackle atmosphere. So I was pleased to see that it had reopened on 26th between 6th and Broadway and persuaded a friend to join me for dinner.
The inside was spacious and fairly pleasant (if cold - especially in the back - the bathrooms seemed unheated) with snug bar tables up front and some booths and tables in the back. I was invited to order a drink while waiting and asked to look at the menu while I waited for my friend. The prices seemed fair in some places (18 dollars for bellies and fries, 24 for lobster roll, 12 dollars for chilled half lobster) and high in others ($2.50 an oyster?) I was most startled, however, by the price of the drinks. There was only one wine by the glass priced under $10, and the martinis being pushed were $13. Perhaps they are trying to make their money on alcohol?
My friend arrived and we sat down. I decided to get a shrimp cocktail and then the clam bellies with fries. She wanted something lighter so ordered the "clam roast" at market price. I ordered the $9 Riesling (undistinguished) and she ordered, at the recommendation of the waiter, something called a "2004 melange" (no grape given) which, he claimed, was a favorite of the bartender.
We were served our drinks along with a plate of sad looking slices of bread toasted and dusted with something (garlic powder?) and a fish salad. I tried the bread without salad (not great.) I don't eat mayo so avoided the salad itself.
My friend's wine had an off taste to it and she asked the waiter to replace it, inviting him to taste it himself. At first he balked, but then a manager (?) came over and tasted the wine. The manager told us that the problem was most likely that the glass had not been properly washed! "Don't tell me that," said my friend, joking, but not really. The wine was replaced.
The shrimp cocktail was good and fresh, with large shrimp (5 of them for 10 dollars.)
I was curious about whether the lobster roll was made with mayo, as has been discussed here. I asked the waiter, and he said it was. Keep in mind, however, that our waiter seemed underinformed about most things (types of oysters available, grapes in the "melange," market price of some items, etc.) so this is perhaps not the final word.
The clam bellies were indeed good, though my friend's clam roast turned out to be almost inedibly salty. I asked for lemon to go with my clams and was served, instead of wedges, the sort of thin slices you put in drinks - it made them tough to squeeze.
We declined to order more alcohol and finished with Diet Cokes. our total bill was $90.
Would I go back? Maybe. The clams were good. If I have another clam craving, I might go sit in the bar and have a plate of them wtih fries and a Diet Coke. And request wedges of lemon.
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