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What happened to Pearl's Restaurant -Great Barrington?

We've enjoyed Pearl's Restaurant in Great Barrington for years. It has been dependable and consistent. The buttermilk fried chicken with biscuit, fried okra, mashed potatoes and gravy was masterful. It's been a mainstay for years, like a comforting old friend. Imagine our shock when we went for dinner last night and discovered that it had been replaced with an Indian version served with naan.
While I'm sure this is a perfectly fine dish, it is no substitute for the comforting deliciousness of the original. Getting past this trauma, further inspection of the menu revealed many other changes to the menu, all in the direction of overly fussy, "creative" dishes, reminiscent of a certain type of "trendy" Manhattan dining, circa 1997. Mango sorbet with basil. Really, do we need that? In addition, prices have risen approximately 25% across the board.
When we asked our server about the changes, expressing our fondness for the old menu, he was extremely defensive. It gradually dawned on us that there must be a new chef in the kitchen, which the server confirmed. After an extremely unsatisfying meal (nothing was flat-out bad, but it wasn't good either), we'd like ask, does anyone know what is going with Pearl's?

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  1. oh, I'm really bummed to read this. My mother totally LOVES the fried chicken at Pearl's, It's really good, and like you said a comforting old friend. I don't know if we'll even go there if its been dicontinued. What a drag.

    1. Yeah, Pearl's in the beginning was pretty good, not amazing. No surprise on the demise though. Welcome to Great Barrington, the restaurants are either the boring same old same old on the menu or they try to "bump" everything up a notch. The problem with some of the restaurants is that they rely on tables filled during the summer while serving the lower common denominator as far as food goes. Another problem is relying on recent grads of the CIA. Having worked my way from dishwasher to sous chef in the Berks, my experience is that the grads from the CIA are arrogant and really don't have the "on the line" skills that are necessary to make a really good restaurant. Good luck and eat wisely.

      ps. A place that stays consistently excellent is John Andrews

      1 Reply
      1. re: breadfan

        John Andrews is tops. I would go there over Pearls any time. Yes, it is not in Great Barrington, but it is well worth the 15 minute drive. There are few places of the same quality as John Andrews in that area. If you have never been, it will seem as if you are driving into the wilderness, as it is really in the middle of nowhere, but keep on going and you'll get there. It's a treat.

      2. As you said, there's a new chef, and he's apparently changed up the menu. The old chef quit to open his own place and took most of the kitchen with him, or so the rumour mill goes. I know Sara Moulton was supposed to have a party there a month or so ago, and canceled when they found out that the kitchen was stripped of help, and the restaurant had to scramble to get more cooks. She ended up re-booking at Chez Nous.

        I guess the new chef wanted to put his own stamp on the menu to signify the change, apparently not such a good idea.

        And I agree, John Andrews never fails to disappoint. definitely worth the extra 15 minute drive.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Piperdown

          very interesting! i have loved pearls over the years but havent been in just about a year. this is too bad. i will 4th john andrews....best in the area. i did love to goto pearls for a nice filet w/ bernaise though.

          1. re: Piperdown

            I think you meant to say that "John Andrews never disappoints", rather than "never FAILS to disappoint".

            1. re: cheferella

              You're right of course, and that's why I really shouldn't post at 3am.

          2. Thank you all for reminding us about John Andrews. We haven't been there for years but we'll go there again this weekend. The Old Mill is OK too, food is good, not great, but the atmosphere and service are very welcoming.
            It's a shame about Pearl's; so convenient to the movies!
            Can you recommend specific dishes at John Andrews?
            Thanks!!!!!!

            2 Replies
            1. re: rifbat

              i think if JA's food was INSIDE the old mill space, it would be a perfect restaurant! i love, love, love the atmosphere of the old mill but the food doesnt come close to JA.
              i like to have a cocktail there first, then goto JA for dinner.

              if you do a JA search here on this board, you will find numerous great reports about the food. my faves are: the mozz/prosciutto salad, the duck, the salt cod ravioli, and the ricotta gnocchi dish with parmesan, prosciutto, and spinach. last month i had a pasta dish with butternut squash and brown butter sage sauce....just awesome. im a major pasta eater when im there, sometimes getting 2 app. size pasta dishes along with mozz/pros. salad....
              ENJOY!

              1. re: niccole

                I second all of Niccole's choices - ESPECIALLY the Gnocchi... I had it in the height of summer and the little pillows of heaven were insanely good! Can't even imagine in the winter that they are even better... if that is possible!! :)