Looking for Update on The Black Pearl
- Selizara Jun 16, 2006 03:57 PM
I was a big fan of The Black Pearl last summer when it was in the back of Julep (on Ave A.) (Lobster rolls, fried belly clams, and other yummy seafood items.) Last I heard, there were rumblings of a re-opening, but I hadn't heard anything solid. Does anyone have any updates?
I just walked by the Black Pearl on 26th between 6th and B'way -- in the location of a club who's name I can't recall that closed during 2006. It was closed -- being Sunday morning and all -- but looks open and ready for business. How long has it been here? Anybody been yet?
Three of us ate there tonight. We went early -- a little before 6:00 -- because, appropriately, I was going to see Calvin Trillin speak at the 92nd St Y at 7:30. We were the first customers to arrive (they open at 4), and when we left just before 7:00, there was only one other couple seated at a table and a handful of people at the bar. This clearly has been a soft opening; I'm not sure it's been publicized at all yet.
Among the three of us, we ordered a lobster roll, a cheeseburger, fried oysters and seafood chowder. After taking our order, they brought to the table some toasted and herbed bread with a fish-salad spread of some sort that was excellent. The food was all served together, and we passed everything around among us. I tried everything but the fried oysters.
The lobster roll was excellent. As kesues indicated it is not mayonaisey at all (although I'm not sure what, if anything, they use to bind he lobster meat together). It is certainly much chunkier than the Pearl roll but, like the Pearl roll, is served on a buttered New England-style hotdog roll. My only complaint about the otherwise excellent roll is that it was too cold. In fairness to the restaurant, I've always wondered how they deal with the fact the lobster meat is better if served at room temperature, but I'm guessing that the health department imposes strict refrigeration rules. Also, perhaps the temperature was dictated somewhat by our early arrival time.
The burger had the potential to be very good, had it not been overcooked. We ordered it medium rare and it was served medium to medium-well. (I am not the type to send things back, but this would have been a candidate.) But notwithstanding its over-doneness, and the very pedestrian roll on which it was served, the meat was very flavorful and shaped into a large, loosely formed patty. I definitely will give it another try.
The chowder was made with a mix of clams, shrimp and fish, and I thought it was well prepared. The chowder was not thick at all, a sign that they avoided the temptation to use corn starch or some other thickening agent.
We finished the evening with what for me was the highlight -- their blueberry crumble -- which was kinda like a bowl of wild Maine blueberry soup with crumble on top. It was terrific, and easily shared among three of us.
They have an decent beer and wine-by-the-glass selection, and I found the dining room to be very comfortable.
They clearly have some kinks to work out. In addition to the overcooked burger, the service had that not-quite-in-a-groove-yet feel to it. Our server tried very hard, but he seemed a little uncomfortable, like perhaps this is his first wait job. He made no serious errors; the only real frustration was getting a cup of coffee with no cream on the table, and then still having to wait several minutes after asking for him to return with it.
Notwithstanding that, this place has the makings of the type of place at which a guy like me, who happens to live around the corner, could become a regular fixture.
My wife and I went on Saturday night at around 7:30. I'd give the food a B overall. We both had lobster rolls, which were more expensive than pearl / mary's / mermaid inn / ditch plains and definitely had less meat in them than the others. I actually drew the manager's attention to this, and while he seemed to care, it's not like they did anything to make up for it.
Taste-wise they were good albeit skimpy. The fries were too thick for my liking - I definitely prefer shoe string fries with a lobster roll.
Prior to the lobster roll they bough a complementary fish mousse / dip which I have to say was really good.
I had one of their specialty martini's (The Big Dig) and it was surprisingly good - not too sweet at all which can be the downfall of going anything other than "up and dry".
The desert (blueberry crumble) was very tasty, but served without ice cream or cream. The warm interior and crunchy base would have been fantastic accompanied with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. We asked for some, but all they had was a lemon-flavored cream which didn't do much for the taste of the crumble.
So, as you can see, it was OK, but I'm still burning about spending more than I would at Pearl Oyster Bar for a smaller lobster roll. On the other hand, everyone was friendly which is a huge change from Pearl and perhaps worth the extra few $$'s...
but their lobster roll is a different style than Pearl's/Mary's, both of which rely on mayonaise and lemon to provide flavor much like a tuna or chicken salad. Black Pearl is just steamed lobster meat with butter on top, different styles. In the past it was the meat from a 1 - 1 1/4 pound lobster that was steamed and served on the bun.
I agree. I'd be surprised if the Black Pearl roll had any less lobster meat than the Pearl. As for the fries, that's just a matter of personal preference: I like the Pearl's shoestring fries, but prefer the Black Pearl's meatier fries.
Where I come out after a single visit to the Black Pearl is that I like Black Pearl's lobster roll better than Pearl, but Pearl still is a better overall experience: the space is more interesting (although a lot more cramped); the service, although brusque at times, is a lot more polished; and I haven't had enough menu items yet at Black Pearl to know whether, other than the lobster roll, they can match up to the Pearl. All of that said, we gotta give the Black Pearl some time to get their act together, which I suspect they will do in short order.
Went to check it out last night (1/11) and was arguably one of top 3 lobster rolls i've had...perfectly toasted bun, lightly buttered and literally overflowing with meat. i don't know whether they're going overboard trying to impress new customers or not but i'll definitely be back. $24 is on par with mary's/pearl/ditch i think...good fries as well.
The lobster roll definitely is $24 at the Black Pearl.
Edited to add: I take it back. Looks like the menu says "market" for price, so perhaps it was just $24 on the night I was there. I'll check again.
For my money this place is just not good enough. I guess it is a "soft" opening but they've been doing this for over a year so the food was not new to them. We went the other night and it was mediocre. Additionally, if I want lobster and butter I'll have a boiled or grilled lobster not lobster meat shoved into a bun. What a WASTE! But it is amazing what Pearl Oyster Bar started, isn't it? A few years ago you couldn't get New England seafood in this town and now everyone has knocked her off--here and across the country. These constant best lobster roll contests really kill me, though. With the exception of Black Pearl (more power to them on that...) everyone just copies Pearl's lobster roll. The Mary's vs. Pearl is super funny because that owner worked at Pearl so why wouldn't it be the same? DUH. It's not like these knock offs are copying Maine lobster rolls, which are pretty bad. FYI, we did the Maine Lobster Roll tour this summer and the only decent one we had was Red's in Wiscassette. Allison's, Maine Diner, Michael's, Robert's, the Clam Shack, MC Perkins Cove and Billy's all sucked. Please, please post if you think that we missed a good one since we're going back up on July 4th.
Oh and our lobster roll was $24, despite the fact I just read an article saying lobster prices are the lowest they've been in years. Canadian lobstermen are having real trouble. Guess it's not trickling down to us, huh?