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Nov 28, 2012 10:29 PM


I've been wanting to try the food at Pearl for some time, and we finally got there last night. I'm not sure why some reviews and descriptions call Jun Tanaka's place, 'French with Asian twists,' as the menu was very varied and what I would call Modern European. The bar has some cosy nooks that looked very inviting, but we headed for the dining room, which is elegant, beautiful and the service all evening was excellent. The restaurant is in an annexe of the Chancery Court Hotel, just a block from the Holburn Tube stop.

For starters I had the crab cakes with a mango salsa. Three good-sized cakes were fried to perfection and the salsa was delicious. My husband had the onion soup, which arrived in a huge bowl and was absolutely fantastic and among the best I've ever tasted. My main was lemon sole in a butter caper sauce accompanied by roast potatoes. The portion was so huge that I didn't think I could finish it... I did. DH had a sea bass with minted new potatoes and we shared some Chantenay carrots. My one criticism is that his portion seemed meager compared to mine but cost quite a bit more. Dessert was profiteroles with warm chocolate sauce... among the best I've ever had.

It was a beautiful meal - somewhat of a splurge at almost £100 with no drinks other than a very good coffee.

The menu was very eclectic and I think had something for everyone... pasta, fish, lots of grilled options - even a wiener schnitzel or hamburger if someone is in the mood for that. The dessert menu was also quite large.

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  1. Do they still give the ladies a necklace after dinner?

    1 Reply
    1. re: davidne1

      I didn't get a necklace. I hope I didn't miss out on my chance to get some diamonds!

    2. Sounded absolutely fabulous, zuriga1.

      Address details
      252 High Holborn
      London WC1V 7EN, United Kingdom
      Tel: 020 7829 7000

      1 Reply
      1. re: klyeoh

        The food was expertly cooked, klyeoh. I haven't had a lemon sole that good in many a year. Our profiterole dessert was fantastic, too. You can try it next visit! We purposely went on an off night, and it was rather quiet. I don't know what happens on the weekend.

      2. I've always been impressed by Tanaka's cooking when I've seen it on TV, although Pearl has never found its way sufficiently to the top of our "must go" list for London..

        The description of it being "French" is probably a self description - certainly they describe themselves as "Modern French" in the Good Food Guide(a Cooking 5, FWIW). Tanuka started his career at La Gavroche and Chez Nico, so I guess there's grounding there. One can only guess that those who ascribe the "asian twist" may assume there must be one, bearing in mind his ethnicity.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Harters

          >One can only guess that those who ascribe the "asian twist" may assume there must be one, bearing in mind his ethnicity.<

          Yes, I think many must have that idea. How much Tanaka is still in the kitchen is something I don't know. I think he does some other things, too, in London.. a food cart or some such. I'm not sure if I'm correct, but considering the restaurant's location, I have a feeling that, since it's open for three meals a day, it may attract many more working people of the area than tourists or other Londoners. I remember that on the day they were filming there for Masterchef (?), the place looked packed - unlike last night.

        2. My sister and I went for our birthday back in 2009 and had a very lovely meal. The restaurant was very quiet, which some people see as a black mark but I don't mind at all. Service was attentive but not intrusive and we very much enjoyed the food.

          Some friends went the following year and didn't like it at all but when I looked at the menu they chose from, it seemed quite at odds with the kind of dishes we chose.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Kavey

            Yes, I liked the service quite a lot. The staff seems to be very international, professional and friendly.

            I was a bit surprised how many choices there were on the menu, and it probably is the same one used for lunch, too, but I don't know. There was a hamburger, sandwich, salad etc. Do you remember what you had to eat.. I realize it was quite awhile ago, and you eat out a lot. :-)

            1. re: zuriga1

              Only because I blogged it! Can't link that here though...

              curried scallops with parsnip puree, apples, cauliflower and semi dried grapes
              poached langoustines with buckler sorrel, chilled pumpkin and ginger soup
              roast loin of marinated lamb with pastilla, couscous, greengages and cobnuts, yoghurt dressing
              guinea fowl and lobster fricassée with tarragon, macaroni and quince puree
              caramelised apples with salted caramel mousse, thyme ice cream and honey jelly

              1. re: Kavey

                Your dishes certainly sound a lot more adventurous and creative than what the menu had on offer the other night. How can one compare your desserts with sticky toffee pudding or some of the other things we were offered? Maybe we had Tanaka 'light,' as our chef.

                1. re: zuriga1

                  Yes, I think the style of what they offer definitely seems to have changed, and perhaps become more main stream, less unusual and interesting. I wonder if that's because the restaurant is within the hotel and has to appeal to hotel guests, who hanker for something more mainstream? No idea...

                  BTW the chocolate afternoon tea in the hotel lounge is lovely, I've been three times now. The tea, sandwiches and scones are served to the table (after you make your tea selection from a caddy of samples that you can open and smell if you like). But you select your patisseries and sweets from the large buffet selection, whichever ones you like, however many you like, no rush to leave in a specific time frame, so perfect to sit and chat over tea with friends. I was very impressed by quality and range of the patisserie concoctions. Not that this has anything remotely to do with Pearl other than being housed in the same hotel.

                  1. re: Kavey

                    Thanks for mentioning the chocolate tea. Visiting friends and/or family often ask if I'll take them to a 'tea,' and it's nice to know about new choices. I like the idea of the buffet selection.. sort of cuts down on the overindulging somewhat.

                    1. re: zuriga1

                      Ha, does the opposite for me and my friends... so much temptation!

                      1. re: zuriga1

                        I've never found buffet to be other than something that encourages my greed (if such were ever needed)

                        1. re: Harters

                          I think my thoughts re overindulgence were that when they bring that huge plate of sweets over to my table at a tea, I usually tend to eat the entire lot (sharing of course with a partner). I don't seem to eat as many cakes if it's a buffet, and I can't even remember the last time I was at a place that had one for desserts. I never got my money's worth at buffets in the States.

            2. has anyone tried their set lunch? it's near my office so i'm often tempted but haven't made it in, having previously only heard lukewarm reviews.