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First/Early in the Game Dates • Listening to Black Eyed Peas Mash Ups • Vegetarians
This Bowery small plates hot spot will start off with a selection of shareable dishes, including options like their pork meatballs or tea-smoked salmon.
For the most part, the food at Pearl & Ash is excellent. Almost everything on the menu here comes with a certain amount of wow factor, usually thanks to some perfectly employed secret ingredient, like uni in the longbeans, berbere on the scallops, or smoked lime yogurt with the shrimp. It’s one of those places where, even if you don’t like it, you won’t soon forget it. And that’s all thanks to chef Richard Kuo and his diverse background that includes but is not limited to: Thailand, Australia, Wylie Dufresne, and most recently some success as one half of the popular Scandinavian pop-up restaurant, Frej. Kuo has picked up intel far and wide, and the result is a tasty repertoire that’s uniquely his own. His food is light, yet it tends to offer deep flavors and dueling textures in each bite. We like that. We also like the insane wine list at this place, which our wine enthusiast friend tells us is basically full bottles from some collector/investor’s personal cellar. There are all kinds of things to be drank that you won’t find anywhere else, so come here and drink them with someone who will appreciate them.
Now for the things that we don’t like. First of all, if you’re going to serve delicate, intricate food that showcases the chef’s considerable talents, then don’t sell him short. We get that Pearl & Ash is all about trying to serve refined dishes in an unpretentious environment, but simply plopping a plate of quail on the table with zero explanation is a little anti-climactic. Like we said, there’s wow factor in those dishes, but for some reason you probably aren’t going to hear about it from your waiter. Oh and speaking of hearing things, we need to talk about the music in this place. It might have been the most shockingly bad mix of songs that we’ve ever heard, and it was playing full blast throughout our whole meal. We were convinced it was the result of an unfortunate Pandora malfunction, only to later find out from their website that their “music consultant” is the editor from Wax Poetics (a seminal hip hop mag). So he’s the guy that told you to play Biz Markie into Air Supply into “Sweet Home Alabama?” Holy sh*t I hope you didn’t pay him. As a matter of fact, here’s a playlist from the music editors at Immaculate Infatuation, and this one’s on the house. Feel free to thank us when people start drinking more with their dinner.
Aside from a few other gripes, Pearl & Ash is ultimately a restaurant we like. The best way to a successful meal here is to come with a relatively large crew and order damn near everything on the menu. You’ll probably absolutely love some things and some things you may not love at all. But at the very least you’ll be impressed by what you see. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be impressed by what you hear. Hopefully they’ll fix that and some of the service issues soon. That’s when Pearl & Ash will go from good to great.
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