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Pearl Oyster Bar in Rockridge - Take Two

PegS | Jul 7, 200412:15 PM

Hubbie was craving oysters, so we stopped by Pearl after work. This was our second visit and I wondered if they had smoothed out some of the rough spots.

He ordered 24 ("Did he say '24'?" our waitress asked me again when my husband went to go wash his hands.) Kumomotos, the peeky-toe crab cakes, and 4 littleneck clams. I, not an oyster fan, ordered the albacore sashimi, the three tartare plate, and corn. I was tempted to get a Caesar salad, but after my disappointing experience last time I decided to forego it.

Oysters were the largest Kumomotos I'd ever seen. Last time, out of a dozen, my husband got one oyster that was completely bad. This time, he said that every 4th oyster or so was a bit off. Not off enough to spit out, but just not quite fresh. He compared it to Cafe Rouge, our other haunt, where he never gets oysters that are anything but impeccably fresh. The littleneck clams were great, though. He even ordered another helping, and said that next time he might consider skipping the oysters and just ordering clams.

He reported that the crab cakes were very creamy. I tried them, and they seemed to have more than the usual share of mayonnaise.

The albacore sashimi was very fresh, and was drizzled with a tiny line of dressing that added almost no taste. Inexplicably, they provided a dab of wasabi, but no soy sauce. Perhaps the wasabi was meant to be decorative as well. I liked the tiny mound of seaweed it had as well.

The trio of tartares was very good, and came accompanied by very buttery, slightly garlicy rustic toast. The tuna had a poke flavor to it, the salmon was fresh but it's seasoning was so light that they really shouldn't have bothered, and the other was I think hamachi or it could have been albacore again. Hard to tell. The toast seemed like the same that they use for their Caesar salads, which meant that it tasted really good but when I tried to eat it with the tartare all I could taste was the toast.

I don't remember what the grilled corn was billed to have, but I remember it was some unorthodox seafoody seasoning. No matter, since you couldn't taste the seasoning and it tasted just like your usual, sweet grilled corn. Very good, but not exactly something I'd applaud the kitchen for.

Presentation was lovely and artistic. Service was about the same. Friendly and enthusiastic, but a bit bumpy. For instance, when we arrived the place was nearly empty (though they were filled by the time we left) and the waitresses (they seemed to be all women this time) kept walking by to place things on our table, but they didn't linger long enough for us to say, "Uh, we're ready to order." When we finally flagged our waitress down she had been chatting with one of the other waitresses for quite awhile.

Total bill, pre-tip, came to $113. We'd go again, but purely because it's so convenient for us. However, for the same amount of money I would have been pleasantly stuffed at Grasshopper down the street. Granted, I know that seafood is more expensive and less filling, and the oysters are at about the going rate, but the rest of the dishes seem a few dollars overpriced, especially for what little food you get.

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