I had a wonderful dinner at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace last night with a few friends, all of whom were sharers, which I love, so I got to try several different dishes. This place is paradise for an oyster lover like me.
It was very crowded when we arrived around 8:00. We were told that we had a 45 - 60 min. wait (they don't take reservations). It turned out to take every bit of that. The place was much more crowded than I thought it would be during the week between Christmas and New Year's.
I had wanted to try the Pearl's Cup (their version of a Pimm's Cup, which I'd heard was good) but they were out of an ingredient for it, so I had to settle for a citrus-y bourbon drink (The Something-or-Other Derby), which was very good.
Once we sat down, we heard the specials and ordered 12 local raw oysters and waited. 11 oysters arrived, but no bread basket. We waited. And waited. Eventually, one of my dining companions got so annoyed with trying to flag someone down that when our waiter eventually arrived, my friend told him he needed to pay more attention to our table. The service got much better after that.
We got a selection of local oysters, with a sampling of all their sauces. All were really wonderful. The bread basket, when it arrived, contained warm biscuits and a jalapeno cornbread. Both were quite good.
Tchoupitoulas -- Oyster Confit, Blue Crab, Tasso, Roasted Corn Loved this appetizer - a lot going on, all of it fabulous.
Wood Grilled East Coast Oysters -- Garlic, Red Chile Butter, Gremolata i was crazy about this. It had a very "wood grilled" smell/taste which I adored.
Fall Squash and Goat Cheese Risotto Cake -- Smoked Bacon Vinaigrette, Frisée Salad
For me, this was just OK. I found it a bit too "fried" and heavy. I only like fried food when it is crunchy, not greasy (stay tuned for more on this topic).
Mushroom soup - very rich and creamy. Very good.
Oyster Dinner -- a generous portion of crunchy, delicious, not greasy oysters, accompanied by excellent salt-roasted potatoes and OK greens and cole slaw.
Shrimp Dinner - see above, with shrimp.
Shrimp Gumbo - a good, not great version, though I have a friend from NOLA who makes the best I've ever had, so I'm totally spoiled for this dish.
A flounder special - pan fried, served with crawfish etouffee sauce. Good but very heavy and the fish was too "fried" for me.
Dessert: we all shared a key lime pie, which was delicious, and served with lime ice cream. This was a very nice ending to the meal - and the perfect portion for four very stuffed people to share.
I wouldn't hesitate to go back to Pearl Dive, especially for the raw oysters and the cooked oyster appetizers. I've love to make a meal of just that. And next time I'll get the Pearl's Cup.
P.S. I see they have 2-for-1 local oysters at happy hour!