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Pearl & Ash


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I'm marking it much harder than Sneak, but with the exception of the veal cheeks, which are great, it looks like we ordered differently. Not that it's bad; it just needs some work. And it's nothing whatsoever like Aska (or, apparently, Frej).

 

Pearl & Ash

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A brief note to highlight the newly opened Pearl & Ash on Bowery between Prince and Spring. I was one of their first paying customers last night, and we had a fab meal at a very fair price. I was

It's interesting that the restaurant was almost full on a weeknight, and more than half empty on a Saturday.

 

I would speculate that on the weeknights they get local Nolitans, who can appreciate this kind of food, and on the weekends they get the Bowery B&T crowd, who probably find the food weird and in any event leave as soon as they learn the bar doesn't have vodka.

 

(To be clear, I would not call this food "revolutionary". I'd just call it excellent.) (But apparently I ordered right.) (Get those meatballs!!!!!!!!)

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Without the "meat" and "fish" dish portions of the menu, this would DEFINITELY be bar food.

 

And, they present it as such anyway.

 

When the bartender proceeded to "explain" the menu to me, he said it was conceived as a bunch of share plates that come out as the kitchen cooks them. When I responded that I don't like to eat that way and prefer a meal of sequential courses ending with a main dish, he quickly said that's the second way the menu is conceived, with the "meat" and "fish" dishes available in "principal portion" sizes.

 

Contrary to my request, though (I was hoping for three courses), my "raw" dish and my "small plate" came out at the same time, as a sort of two-plate appetizer.

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the kitchen's appetite for little fried bites

 

Part of why it felt to me (with a somewhat more limited menu) like bar food.

 

Yes, exactly, with some crafty ingredients.

 

I think the Stanton Social/Boulton & Watt crowd would have no problem with this menu--whereas food at Aska (or the original Isa) could weird anyone out.

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I stopped in here the other night for a quick bite and really enjoyed it.

 

The menu here is impossible to describe. Somebody asked me what type of restaurant it was and I couldn't answer them.

 

The meatballs are indeed extraordinary. It's definitely the umami from the shiitake and bonito that makes it. Also excellent is the octopus, which is first braised and then pan-fried for a really crispy exterior. The fernet branca ice cream sandwich was a nice, simple way to end the meal. Incidentally, the dishes came out in sequence and not all together. I need to get back here soon and order more.

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The menu here is impossible to describe. Somebody asked me what type of restaurant it was and I couldn't answer them.

 

I am curious, because I had the same difficulty describing the food, whether you think this is a problem for this restaurant. Is there a lack of culinary signature? I think Richard is very talented and I found most of the dishes to be very well executed and thoughtful, but I still couldn't describe what connected them.

 

Any ideas of what makes this food Richard's? Or how Pearl & Ash should be described?

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I hate to say it, but it's contemporary, intelligent Asian Fusion.

That really only works for some of the dishes, although it's clear that the menu is borrowing a lot of Asian ingredients. It might be even worse to say that the food is Australian, where Richard is from, but I think it's more accurate.

 

"Contemporary Australian"

 

Does this food read in a category like Jean Georges?

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