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Pearl Dive Oyster Palace - 14th St. NW

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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.

Appetizers:

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.

Entrees:

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!

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  1. I was there on Christmas Eve and had a wonderful meal. I don't eat oysters but found the barbecue shrimp appetizer and fried chicken well worth the visit. I did get the Pearl's Cup and enjoyed it- refreshing and not too sweet. We had eggnog pie for dessert, which was unique and quite delicious.

    1. Went for lunch this weekend. Requested fried oysters, which are not on the menu (at least, at lunch), and husband had oysters gumbo. My fried oysters were very good (not lifechanging, but quite delicious). Gumbo was pronounced adequate. Service was cheerful but verrrrrrrrry slow. We waited about 1/2 hour for our food - and the place was only about 1/4 full when we arrived - though it was packed by the time we left. Verdict: we'd return if we were in the neighborhood and the wait wasn't long, but it's unlikely we'd go out of our way for it.

      1. I had a shrimp po' boy as part of happy hour. Tasted fine. I was hoping for a tasty, sloppy sandwich, but what I got instead was a refined sandwich with jumbo shrimp (an oxymoron?) and little sauce or other greenery / slaw/ what have you. Kind of a 'rich boy' instead of a po' one, so I was disappointed. There are some things progress is not good for.

        I didn't have the local oysters, but I've done that deal at Black's Bar and Kitchen in Bethesda and the local oysters are just too inferior for my taste. YMMV.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          Agreed about the local oysters. It depends entirely on the producer, the harvest of that particular year, and how "local" the oysters are. I've had some from the Eastern Shore that were miniscule and iodiney; others from southern Virginia that were plump and briney and the equal of any bluepoints or Whitstables. "Local" doesn't automagically equal "better tasting." That's why oysters are imported in the first place.

          1. re: monkeyrotica

            Good to know. I will try to keep an open mind about them local oysters.

            1. re: Steve

              "Chincoteagues" are local to the Mid-Atlantic and find them to be some of my favorites, salty and plump.

        2. I have been several times and love the place. The Tchoupitoulas are great and highly recommended. The pies for dessert are also great for those who like rich desserts. We also always get the Pearl's Cup and the Derby drink, both of which I think are as good as any bar/restaurant in town that specializes in cocktails.

          I also have really enjoyed the crawfish etouffee.

          1. I went for happy hour last week and loved it as well! We also tried the spicy shrimp pizza upstairs at Black Jack and it was amazing!!