Pearl Brasserie is a cool contemporary space serving innovative and beautifully presented French food in some style.
Pearl Brasserie is just next door to the Merrion Hotel, in a basement that is beautifully decorated, with intimate alcoves, a bijoux bar and an elegant dining room. Staff are friendly and professional and the service is splendid. We have eaten here several times over the years and it is always good; Pearl is one of the consistently best dining rooms in the city.
On a cold winters evening the room is like a hug, with the peat burning fire blazing and a warm welcome in the bar. We are shown to one of the little alcoves, which I imagine were once upon a time coal holes in the kitchen of what would have been a fine Georgian residence. The curved roof is now covered in padded stylish fabric, and the effect is impressive; it feels warm and cosy and ever so posh.
The menu is short but well put together and highlights seasonal dishes. We are soon nibbling on some fresh breads and sipping sparkling water. It’s a work night, so no wine for me, but Deirdre had a glass of the excellent Martin Codec Albarinho. The wine list here is a thing of beauty by the way, and could easily involve lots of enjoyable research and the spending of reasonable amounts of money, but that alas is for another time.
The menu offers about half a dozen starters, and slightly more main courses. Starters include crabmeat, marinated tuna, fresh oysters served with shallot vinaigrette or pan fried duck foie gras.
Main courses offer cod Viennese with flageolet beans, Jerusalem artichoke and Morteau sausage, halibut with pickled mushrooms and chicken jus or hake with shrimp and lemon butter. The meat and game side of things is well represented with beef fillet with potato and celeriac mille fieulle, squab pigeon with foie gras and truffle or loin of venison with sherry and cauliflower.
After some debate Deirdre decided on the crab, followed by the hake, while I picked the tuna and chose the venison as my main course.
Deirdre’s starter arrived as a piece of art on the plate. The crabmeat was formed into a thick disk, which rested on an edge and was wrapped in delicate cucumber. Little drops of horseradish added a hit and mandarin added zest. This was a generous portion as well, not fiddly and delicate; it was almost hearty, if crab can ever be described thus.
My tuna again was beautifully presented, and apple wasabi provided the heat here. The fish was light and delicious and this was an excellent dish, perfectly balanced and satisfying.
Deidre’s main course was a picture of beauty, with two pieces of hake draped with spinach and drizzled with the lemon butter. My venison was rich and delicious, and the polenta cake and cauliflower were wonderful. The rich jus set it off and a finer piece of meat I haven’t had in a long time.
We took a break before the inevitable desserts; a meal of this quality comes along seldom and should be savoured as long as possible. I chose the raspberry and Lychee mille fieulle which was fruity and tangy and just what I wanted after the rich venison. Deirdre had the chocolate confection, which was rich and delicious and we finished an excellent meal with coffee.
Pearly is one of Dublin’s finest restaurants, and the food is always interesting and exciting. Attentive and friendly service and one of the prettiest dining rooms in the city make it a winner on all fronts. Top of its game.