Went last night for the Spring tasting menu. It was a very good value at $65 per person plus $45 for the wine pairings. We have eaten here numerous times in the past for both the tasting menu and a la carte selections and have absolutely loved it. This most recent experience was very good but did not live up to some of the past meals, which would have garnered them 5s from me across the board.
Started with a tomato bisque amuse bouche that had a small dollop of chevre on top. Nice but not spectacular.
The first course was a three-part appetizer with a tuna sashimi "rose" topped with a side stripe prawn with a wasabi aeoli (bland), a purple fingerling potato stack with more wasabi aeoli (also bland but better than the tuna) and a house-smoked beef carpaccio with fried capers (much better).
Second course was a weathervane scallop on a quinoa salad with some eggplant caviar under the scallop. Very good indeed.
Third was, in my opinion, the best dish - halibut on sea veggies with a strong asian ponzu/sesame oil flavour. Delicious, as was the Reisling served alongside as the wine pairing.
Fourth was a 36-hour braised short rib. It was flamed tableside with Sambucca. Very good, but until I realized the fried Asiago ball on the plate ought to be eaten with the meat, I thought it lacked sufficient seasoning. Hubby would say this was his favourite dish. Again, exceptional wine pairing.
Fifth course was Cambozola cheese with water crackers and grapefruit/champagne jelly. Nice, but more cheese would have been good. Tasting menu portions are small due to the number of courses but that was ridiculous. There was about 1.5 teaspoons.
The final, dessert course was a large-ish dish of chocolate brownie, shortbread cookie and vanilla bean ice cream with some sliced strawberries. I am sad to say it was kind of boring. The brownie was gritty from sugar as it was basically uncooked batter with a crispy outer layer. The shortbread cookie was no surprise and the house-made ice cream, while delicious, had large ice crystals in it. There was no sauce. This paled in comparison to past desserts here.
Finally came a lovely little mignardise of a thimble-sized white chocolate cup filled with strawberry mousse, sitting on a dark chocolate cookie with white chocolate chips. I think this could be the inspiration for a better dessert than the one on the menu.
Overall, and relative to many other fine it dining experiences I have had, I would still rate this one as "outstanding" but my hope is that Pearl pays attention to ensure it continues to be of the caliber it has been in the past. Please do not slip into complacent mediocrity!
Service was absolutely great, in that energetic and friendly way. If you prefer unobtrusive service you will not get that here. The server, Yasha, did make a wonderful series of unique, non-alcoholic drinks for hubby that were "paired" with the dishes as he was not having wine. She has done that for him in the past as well. This is her own initiative and was above and beyond what I have seen anywhere when hubby asks for something "different" to drink.
Decor is nice but the room is prone to drafts as there is no vestibule. I always ask for a table away from the door and I prefer the booths in the back if we can get one.
Overall, it was a lovely dinner but not up to what I know this restaurant is capable of. I am hoping future visits will put it back on its culinary pedestal for me.