633 Church St Richmond East 3121
(03) 9421 4599
I’ve been to Pearl a few times. Headed up by Geoff Lindsay Pearl serves ‘Modern Australian’ cuisine with decidedly Asian (and occasionally Mediterranean) influences. On a first visit it’s almost heretical to not order the wok-fried pearl meat and roast red duck curry – and both dishes deliver. The duck is particularly exciting and engaging coming to table with its own set of instructions. On this occasion we had the Ox Tail Ragu with Buffalo Ricotta Tortellini and the Slow braised baby back pork ribs with green papaya, longan and thai basil salad, cucumber relish and thai sticky rice.
The tortellini dish was particularly disappointing. The pasta was undercooked and the ricotta filling lacked any discernable taste. The ragu was without fault but at the same time not particularly standout or exciting. When you’re charging $37 for a pasta dish the expectation is for something beyond trattoria fare – and this dish did not deliver.
The Pork Ribs sung a different tune. Tender and sweet the dish was conceptually faultless. The only exception being the ‘sticky rice’ which wasn’t quite an honest rendition of it’s Thai equivalent.
Dessert at Pearl has been of class on every visit and likewise this visit was solid. The bittersweet chocolate and turkish delight soufflé served with lemon syrup soaked doughnuts & clotted cream was without fault and stands as perhaps my personal favorite of recent times. The other desert we had was the lemon, nougat and ricotta semifreddo with brandied cherries and chilled cherry soup which was unexciting. While it was a touch cheaper than the Souffle ($19/$23) it felt as though it was of a different class and was a little disappointing.
Service at Pearl is excellent – always sophisticated and formal without being pretentious or exclusionary.
Overall – a solid performing, enjoyable restaurant – though not without a couple rough edges. 15/20 – 75%.