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Pearl Oyster Bar report

Finally went - for lunch - and found the vibe pretty relaxed and neighborly, although by 1:00 the place was hopping.

Upon the suggestion of the waitress, I started with the fried oysters. Now, I'm not a fan of fried oysters - I prefer them in their pristine condition. But these were good, served in their open shells, in a dollop of tarter sauce. Crispy on the out, meaty on the in.

Of course I had to try the lobster roll. It is "market price". Today a lobster roll was $23. It was fantastic, the best one I've had in NYC (my previous favorite was at Fresh), and leagues better than the one at Mary's Fish Camp which I found tasteless. Plump and ample chunks and shreds of fresh lobster in a kind of over-sized weiner bun, with just the right amount of flavorful dressing. Perfection.

The downside was the shoestring fries. Truth be told, I hate shoestrings - too little potato flavor or texture - so maybe I'm not the best person to pronounce judgment on Pearl's'. But I hated them. Fries belong with burgers (which need them), not with magnificent lobster rolls (which don't). I like the way they do it at Fresh, where they serve a crispy and peppery watercress salad with the lobster roll: now that is elegant!

Chablis was the perfect accompaniment to the oysters and lobster.

Finished with an excellent strawberry-rhubarb pie topped with vanilla ice cream, and a respectable cup of regular coffee (their only kind).

Overall: can't wait to return.

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  1. POB is one of my favorite places in NYC. I love the lobster roll and the pan roasted fish especially. I only wish the fries weren't matchstick, but rather I wish they were more like a french "frite" type fry. In any event, I'll back, as usual.

    1. THANK YOU - words cannot describe how thankful I am for this report - I was actually going to check it out earlier today but scary stories about how bad the service was and the price of the lobster roll approaching $30 turned me back. Pearl seems like a place that I want to like and will definitely give it a first-time go, in light of this write up. Appreciate it :D

      On a sidenote, I liked the shoestrings at spotted pig, so is it safe to say I'll enjoy them here?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Souper

        Ora is correct: the fries are actually matchstick, not shoestring. Shoestrings are thin indeed. But matchsticks are wispy super-thins with no potato flavor. Every mouthful of matchstick fries tastes like deep frying oil. Which is bad enough, but pairing a sublime lobster roll with tasteless, oily matchstick fries is unfortunate.

        1. re: Skillet Licker

          Thanks for the response. sounds like potato sticks (the kind you find next to Chips at your local deli) which doesn't sound too great.

          Since this is the most current topic on the subject, can you recommend anything else on the menu? How does the clam chowder stack up - Other than a lobster roll I'm also searching for perfect NE Clam chowder. Not directed to you in particular, perhaps, but can anyone shed some light as to the other menu items at POB? Don't forget dessert...

          1. re: Souper

            The raw oysters and clams are usually excellent, as are the steamers. My husband has been happy with every fish dish he's had there - I always stick to the lobster roll! I love the praline parfait, and have heard others dining next to me ooh and aah over the blueberry pie. Enjoy! And, by the way, I've never encountered bad service there - it may be a bit "business like", though as we've started going there more often, we often get a friendly "hi" from the bar tender and the hostess when we arrive.

        2. re: Souper

          Had a lobster roll there yesterday and they brought it down to $23. It was only $26 because their was a lobster shortage and prices were exorbitant. I love the fries, incidentally.

        3. Pearl's was the first Lobster roll I ever ate in my life. Glad to hear I started off w/ a good example of the breed. I don't know if I could conceptualize any way to make it better. I'm still thinking about it.

          BTW, when we went, it was at prime time on a Saturday night w/ no reservations. ALthought it was a bit of a madhouse, I thought the reception and service were very good. We ate at the counter, and the hostess was chipping in to help expidite service.

          I wonder what a Fed Ex-ed Lobster roll would cost me?

          1. I usually get my lobster roll at POB with a salad as opposed to the fries. I really like their side salad, not too over-dressed and i find it goes much better with the roll than the fries.

            1. The only place I've had a lobster roll is at Mermaid Inn. How does this one compare? And does anyone know the going rate at Mermaid this summer?

              2 Replies
              1. re: pamplemousse

                Mermaid Inn's is great also, but I do think that Pearl's edges it out slightly. Plus all the other great food at Pearl's!

                I'm drooling now.

                1. re: pamplemousse

                  No comparison. POB so superior and I love Mermaid Inn. Get your behind over there if you love a good lobster roll! And get something that includes the homemade pickles and tartar sauce...like the salted shrimp! Really a special place. I love it!