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Pearl Restaurant & Bar
Renaissance Chancery Court,
252 High Holborn,
London, WC1V 7EN
Tel: 020 7829 7000

Food type: Modern French

Food rating: 5/10

Nearest tube: Holborn

Website: Pearl Restaurant & Bar

My supervisor treated J and I to a dinner at Pearl Restaurant & Bar. This is my 3rd visit to Jun Tanaka’s restaurant – I had previously dined here for my birthday and a second visit for lunch with J. Pearl is located in the Renaissance hotel, Holborn – it was formerly a banking hall which has been redesigned to become a restaurant. It gains its name from the thousands of hand strung pearls within the restaurant. We joined my supervisor and her partner at the bar before being seated.

Canapes: Tuna Tartare, Ratatouille in Tomato, Potato and Ham hock with Sage and Fried Mushroom Risotto

We were offered some canapes including some Tuna Tartare, Ratatouille in Tomato, Potato and Ham hock with Sage and Fried Mushroom Risotto. One complaint was that the restaurant was rather stingy with the dishing out of canapes – only one plate of canapes per two people. The canapes themselves were pleasant if uninspiring – the Ratatouille in Tomato was the same one I had during my birthday (5/10). The menu offered some interesting combinations. For example, Pork Belly is served with scallops and pineapple.

Cucumber and Dill Sorbet; Gazpacho of Tomato and Black Olives

Amuse bouche was a Cucumber and Dill sorbet along with a Gazpacho of Tomato and Black Olives. Both were nice and pleasant – the cucumber and dill sorbet is a combination I am quite familiar with as I like using this combination when making salmon salads and it worked pretty well.  Definitely not as bad as sengcheek had described. I also thoroughly enjoyed the gazpacho which had the right combination of sweet, sour and umami. While very good, the ideas are still very conservative hence a 4/10. Unlike my first visit last November, bread choices were limited to either white or brown bread. The bread themselves were unremarkable (2/10).

Confit of Ceps with Roast Quail, Scotch Egg and Chicken Liver Parfait

My starter was a Confit of Ceps with Roast Quail, Scotch Egg and Chicken Liver Parfait – I was looking forward to this dish, especially the scotch egg which was masterfully done leaving a slightly runny yolk without the outside being too greasy.  While there was a lot going on the plate – chicken liver parfait, ceps, crisp proscuitto , scotch egg and the quail itself, they surprisingly complimented each other very well. The proscuitto was light and crisp while the ceps was prepared in such a way that it kept all its flavour and texture. If there was a slight disappointment, it was that the quail, which while correctly cooked, and remaining perfectly moist could have done with a tad more seasoning. The quail jus was absolutely stunning (6/10).

Cured Langoustine with Avocado, Mango and Cucumber with Crispy Baby Squid

J went for the Cured Langoustine with Avocado, Mango and Cucumber with Crispy Baby Squid. I did not manage to get a taste of this dish although the general consensus on the table was that it was a pleasant dish.

Braised Shin of Limousin Veal, Glazed Spring Carrots, Lemon Confit

For mains, I went for the S approved Braised Shin of Limousin Veal, Glazed Spring Carrots, Lemon Confit. The veal was braised until melting tender and falling apart on touching my fork. The meat was full of flavour unlike the tasteless piece of cardboard I had on Wednesday. Curly kale, a vegetable I rarely see on menus, was a nice addition – the bitterness provided a good contrast to the rich veal. The veal was also served with the marrow which was probably the best bit of the dish – rich, soft and full of flavour. So to the mashed potatoes, or should I call it ‘pomme puree’. Make no mistake, this dish was very rich and ‘angina on a plate’. My problem with this dish was that there were many, in my opinion, unnecessary components on the plate.  For example, I felt the addition of the carrots unnecessary and did not add anything to the dish as a whole. My guess is that they were added to add colour to the final dish. The lemon confit still had a tinge of bitterness which I did not take particularly to (5/10).

Spiced Pork Belly with Scallops, Savoy Cabbage and Caramelised Pineapple

J went for the Spiced Pork Belly with Scallops, Savoy Cabbage and Caramelised Pineapple which she said was very nice – the pork belly again braised until melting tender. It was served with pork crackling (a personal favourite of mine).

John Dory with Ginger, Carrots and Fennel, Crab Croquettes, Cauliflower Puree

Confit of Wild Sea Trout with English Asparagus and Jersey Royals, Razor Clam Ceviche

My tutor went for the John Dory with Ginger, Carrots and Fennel, Crab Croquettes, Cauliflower Puree while her partner went for the Confit of Wild Sea Trout with English Asparagus and Jersey Royals, Razor Clam Ceviche. The John Dory dish was a modification of the dish I previously had – the Osso Bucco Croquettes replaced with Crab instead.

Cassis jelly with Vanilla Yoghurt and Lemon Crumble

Pre-dessert was a lovely Cassis jelly with Vanilla Yoghurt and Lemon Crumble.  This was pretty good although it was inevitable that a mess was made as the crumble was filled all the way to the top.

For dessert, I opted for some cheese from the board – the truffle cheese was not available this time around. However, I  enjoyed a very good Époisses which was perfectly ripe and a lovely Goat’s cheese which name escapes me. The Comte was rather uninspiring with the Camembert au Calvados merely pleasant. An italian blue cheese I had (not gorgonzola though) was very boring and one dimensional. Cheese was served with a variety of biscuits and bread including walnut and apricot bread. No fruits were provided this time around. About 5/10 for the cheese although 9/10 for the Époisses alone.

White Chocolate and Passion Fruit Mousse

J went for the White Chocolate and Passion Fruit Mousse – the small bite I had of this was really good with a good balance of passion fruit and richness of the chocolate (7/10).

Baileys Parfait with Profiteroles, Orange and Yuzu Foam

My tutor went for the Baileys Parfait with Profiteroles, Orange and Yuzu Foam – the chocolate sauce poured onto the profiteroles at the table.

Petit Fours

Petit fours were brought to us on a tray with a variety of treats available. This included a white and black sesame seed biscuit, nougat, white chocolate with coconut truffle, raspberry jelly, dark chocolate and raisins and almond and chocolate. These treats, while unoriginal, were very good indeed – sometimes you just don’t mess with simplicity (5/10).

Overall I found dinner at Pearl to be enjoyable. The level of food here is hovering a level slightly below the coveted 1 Michelin Star (5/10). Service while pleasant could have done with a bit more care in places. For example, the waiter serving the cheese could not remember the name of all the cheeses, the girl at the reception forgot to return me my dinner jacket and bread had to be requested for our mains. I did not recognize any of the waiting staff that night – the Maitre’d from my last two visits was not present this time around. Also, the atmosphere was rather muted even for a Saturday night with the restaurant only half full. Food here is relatively pricey and have been slightly raised since my last visit.  2 courses cost £46, while 3 costs £54 (previously £49).  While it is understandable that the location of Pearl may have something to do with the pricing, it does not represent good value for the casual diner looking to celebrate a special occassion. Perhaps, here in lies the problem as people would be tempted to plonk for a more glamorous Michelin starred restaurant of an equivalent if not cheaper price. For example, a 3 course dinner is £40 at Chez Bruce, £50 at the Ledbury and £55 at Roussillon. I really do enjoy Jun Tanaka’s food and I hope that the fact that the restaurant was only half full on a Saturday night is down to the credit crunch and not a sign of a restaurant in decline.

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