Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pearl Tavern

Location: 180 N Upper Wacker
Cost: Probably around $40 per person

A while back, I brought my buddy Bill to a restaurant opening of sorts. They served rather unimpressive drinks and very small bites before the night came to an abrupt end. We quickly found a nearby bar and ordered some burgers. That being said, I aimed to make it up to Bill and asked him to join me once I got the invite to check out this new oyster bar in The Loop... Pearl Tavern.

Logistics
The party was already rolling by the time Bill and I got there. They had everyone stationed in the sharp looking bar area with waiters passing out oysters and signature cocktails. Behind the cocktail area they've got this row of seated dining that overlooks the river. As it stands, I think they're still working on a patio of sorts, but they've got plenty of time before it's warm enough for any of that. The staff was young and energetic with plenty of guys in vests with interesting facial hair mixing up unique creations behind the bar. The feel was classy but not too upscale. From the raw bar, to the share plates, and finally the larger items, everything falls right around $12 a plate. You'll have to get a few things for your table, but the price probably won't add up to all that much.

The Food
Between the drinks and raw bar items coming our way during the cocktail hour, I didn't really have a free hand to take too many pics. That aside, the oysters were fresh and had their own distinct flavors. Otherwise my favorite raw item was the tuna poke.

From there we had a five course tasting of their large items. We started out with the Crab Churro, which was much like a slightly different shaped and different textured version of a crab rangoon. After that they brought out some Peel n' Eat Shrimp. With the heads on, they made for a bit of a mess, but like most good seafood they were worth the effort. The third course was a Grilled Octopus that met the right mark not being too chewy or too charred. Next up was the Gnocchi in a pistachoi emulsion sauce. It was substantially more filling than some of the other seafood dishes and made way for the final course, the Swordfish Au Poivre. It was very peppery with a great exterior char and internal flakiness.

 The Crab Churro

 The Peel n' Eat Shrimp

 The Grilled Octopus

 The Gnocchi

 The Swordfish

Overall
Pearl Tavern has many great things to offer, in addition to its fantastic name. Far and away the best part of the meal was the raw bar cocktail hour. That being said, the Shrimp and the Swordfish were also darn tasty dishes. If you find yourself in the loop in search of some seafood, you've got a solid option.
Pearl Tavern on Urbanspoon

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