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Happy eating,
Jon!




Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Pearl Restaurant (Richmond)
Last Wednesday I once again had the privelege of having a fantastic dinner at one of my favourite restaurants, Pearl. I was very lucky to get a last minute booking - the restaurant was full throughout the night. As I was told on the phone though, we couldn't possibly let you go hungry, such is the warmth of hospitality that Pearl exhibits.

Pearl really is the perfect example of a Modern Australian restaurant fusing fresh ingredients with international technqiues to create innovative and delicious food. Chef, Geoff Lindsay strongly believes in love and respect for ingredients, seeing his cooking as an immediate and sensual art form. The end result is amazing food that delivers everything it promises and then some more.

Pearl's setting is also wonderful: modern with leather banquettes and funky white chairs around the place. Its all quality and detail as well with crisp starched linen and quality glasswares, cutlery and crockery. There is attention to detail from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. Exactly what you expect when you are paying for high-end dining.

Things start off with an offering of Pearl Bread, Cobram estate extra virgin olive oil with lemon: A beautiful little loaf of warm bread split at the bottom and served with a robust lemon oil.


A customary amuse guele follows: tonight its (strangely) a Bloody Mary, straight from the bar.

I then order a new entree - Saltwater charr cooked in palm sugar and nam pla, wallis lakes rock oysters, a sahimi of gould's squid with iberico ham and honey dew melon, shaved lime ice ($30):
This is a wonderful little medley of seafood. In the middle of the plate sits the fresh squid. Delicate strips sit atop the "lime ice" which is rather like a spoonful of a bitter citrus slurpee. This cold citrus taste contrasts well with the squid to showcase the freshness and subtlety of its meat. On the sides sit three small oysters, which are wonderfully creamy and dressed with a little salad made from a julienne of melon, as well as three small pieces of saltwater charr (a fish which is very similar to salmon or ocean trout) which has been so gently cooked in palm sugar, giving it a wonderful sweetness, whilst maintaining the integrity of the fish and its texture. The charr pieces are finished with some air-dried iberico ham and sit on a small droplet of the sticky cooking syrup. I really enjoyed eating this dish, slowly picking at each of the morsels and savouring each piece for what it was.


Main - Roast red ducky curry, a crispy fried egg, shallots, mint, sweet fish sauce and coconut rice ($42):
If you haven't had Pearl's duck, you have not really experienced duck. It is a signature dish, for good reason. I find myself hard pressed not to order it each time I visit and I'm yet to find anyone who doesn't love it. It is such a complete and filling dish that satisfies to the max. In one bowl sits the duck: slowly cooked, so tender that it easily falls off the bone. Another bowl contains a light coconut rice, and the third contains the fish sauce, egg and condiments, which you mix together and poor on the duck as you serve it. The taste is just amazing; the fish/egg sauce is incredible and the range of flavours in the dish blows me away every time I eat it. It really is something special. A must try dish!


After eating the duck there simply isn't any room left for a full dessert so I order a hot chocolate and a little snack from their "sweet treats" list.

Pearl's famous hot chocolate ($6.50):
One of the best hot chocolates in town. Just look at it. In a glass sits a layer of real valrhona chocolate topped with hot milk and a thick layer or creamy froth. Then there is a small jug with more milk and a dish with broken chunks of valrhona chocolate. This allows you to adjust the chocolate to your taste, making it richer or creamier. Or you can even make another hot chocolate or dare I say it, nibble on the extra chocolate pieces.


Coconut ice ($5):
Its basically made from coconut and icing sugar, with pink food colouring added to the top layer. A simple but tasty childhood treat.


Pearl remains an exceptional dining experience and is definitely one of my favourite places to eat. It is a comfortable, intimate dining room but can get rather noisy when full. The food: some of Melbourne's best, especially that amazing duck.

Pearl received a score of 17 out of 20 in the 2008 Age Good Food Guide and was awarded two chefs hats.

MY RATING: 18/20 - Food 9/10 Service 4.5/5 Ambience 4.5/5 Highy Recommended!

www.pearlrestaurant.com.au

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Name: Jon!

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