Richmond VIC 3121
Ph: (03) 9421 4599
As part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, a host of restaurants had Express Lunches on offer. This consisted of a glass of wine and two course. I took advantage of this and went to lunch at Pearl Restaurant.
Pearl has a very good reputation so I was expecting good things. I have to say that the parking situation already got me a bit aggrevated. Due to it's location on popular Church street, it's really hard to find a parking. When I finally did find a parking spot, it was only for an hour meaning I had to move the car halfway during lunch.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, I saw a light, cleanly decorated place, which I liked. We were seated at a table roughly in the middle of the room, and it was quite comfortable.
A waiter came round to give us the menu and explain how the express lunch worked. Another came to ask what wine we wanted. So far so good. Upon making up our minds, the waiter took our orders and we sat about chatting while waiting for our meals.
The girls decided to go for entrees and mains while I went the mains and dessert option. Irene go the Chestnut Soup while Ling got the Bocconcini Roll. The soup was hearty and tasty with a crispy piece of bacon inside. However, the bocconcini roll was not good at all. The cheese was so hard and all the flavours together with the cabbage, fig and fried cheese crisp didn't work.
For mains, we all chose the Seared Scallops with Crispy Skin Pork as the other dish was a vegetarian mains, and we're all carnivores. The dish was beautifully presented and my mouth was salivating. Once I started eating though, I was no longer salivating. The main components of the dish weren't good at all. The crispy skin pork belly had chewy skin, a layer of fat still unrendered under the skin and lacked any flavour. The scallops were pathetic anorexic things with the roe left on. I don't mind eating the roe but it doesn't really add to the flavour. Worse still, the scallops were cold. The sauce and accompaniment worked well with the dish, but could not save it.
My dessert of Rosewater Ice Cream with Turkish Delight and Persian Floss was also a massive disappointment. The flavours didn't work together for me at all. The floss tasted qutie bad actually, really malty.
The ambience in the restaurant is very good. I love the light airy feeling, and with the light streaming into the mostly white room, felt warm and relaxing. The service though, was in total contrast and cold. Our waiter was not only cold, he wasn't very efficient either. I waited and waited and waited for 30 minutes for water despite the waiter being at our table numerous times and seeing it was empty. Finally I had to ask and even then he took a while, once I could get the attention of all the wait staff standing around at the bar.
Overall, on the food that I tasted from this express lunch, I don't think I will be rushing back to Pearl to try more. The environment is comfortable, but the service and food let it down and don't justify the prices.