fine dining london

Pearl – Holborn

I love posh girl dates. There is nothing better than throwing two sheets to the wind, spending some money and having a bit of gossip. The other thing I love is when TopTable deals don’t turn out to be absolute shit. So you can imagine my delight when I went to the near-perfect Pearl, a Japanese/French fusion restaurant just near Holborn tube, on a ‘3-course and a cocktail’ deal for £43 deal with one of my good friends, Kat.

First off, Pearl is gorgeous. It borders on being a teensy bit too snobby for its own good, but the little touches (pearls on the chandeliers, mainly – I know, cheesy, but whatever) made me forget that. The service, also, from the time we walk in the door was absolutely flawless.

On the random Wednesday we went, the restaurant nor the bar was particularly busy, which made me think this is probably why they have the TopTable deal on. It also worried me a bit because as often is the case with money off deals, the servers treat you like a second-class citizen. Not so with Pearl. I think they were happy to see people.

Our amuse bouche came straightaway. Three little delicacies: some sort of minced salmon paste with a glaze over top, chicken liver parfait with a goat cheese filled cherry tomato and a mushroom risotto ball:

All excellent, including the risotto ball, considering I’m not the biggest fan of mushrooms.

The next course was a bit of a surprise, an extra little treat before our starters – Goat Cheese Truffle with Artichoke Soup and Parmesan:

A lovely combination, and just enough to whet the appetite.

For my actual starter, I had the Beef and Oysters:

The plates were exactly the same as Launceston Place, so already I had fond memories. The beef was a braised beef cheek with watercress tortellini, crispy oysters and parsnips. The combination of textures served it well. The tortellini, in particular, was fantastic. It tasted of/probably was squid ink. You could certainly do worse.

Kat went with the Mackerel Fondant:

The presentation on this was a bit more like a flower wreath than food, admittedly, and I’ll say it certainly wasn’t my favourite of the night (most likely due to the dill. I hate dill), but the candied beetroot garnish was quite tasty.

For mains, we both went with the Sole with Artichoke Gnocchi and Chicken Wings:

The sole was a bit of an odd one, because I absolutely LOVED everything on the dish….except the sole. The artichoke gnocchi was brilliant, only superseded by the most tender and delicate roasted artichokes I’ve ever tasted – and the ‘chicken wings’? Let’s just say, they weren’t the kind you get at Fridays (thank God). But the sole? It was like a salt lick. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt here, though. With everything else being perfect, something must have gone wrong in the kitchen with the fish. Shame.

Pre-dessert was a Couscous Mango Foam with ‘Walnut Crunch’:

Audible squeals of delight on this. I might venture to say it was even better than the actual desserts…similar to my Viajante review.

Speaking of, I had the Tiramisu with Amaretto Ice Cream:

Neither particularly French, nor Japanese, I was a little confused by the fact that this was even on the menu, but regardless, it was tasty. Presentation was fun, and the tuile the tiramisu was wrapped in was a sugary delight, despite being thinner than tissue paper. Exactly as it should be.

Kat went with this:

I’m so sorry I can’t actually remember what it was. Some sort of tapioca-ish thing with a bit of jelly on top. It was served with a ‘spiced’ ice cream, which I do remember was infused with cardamom and clove. The rest, apparently, not very memorable.

Apart from the lacklustre finish and salty sole, the meal was brilliant. Kat and I ordered a lovely bottle of viognier for £32, which made the final bill a bit more expensive (£65 per person with water and service), but you can do it much cheaper and still have a wonderful time. The TopTable deal is still on, so do yourself a favour, and go. Now.

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