Pearl Raw Bar, 2229 W. Main Street, Richmond
Karisa: We did it again. We brought boys. What is this brunch club coming to? I blame Michele. It was her big birthday weekend, so a few of her DC guests joined us, and didn't want the one boy to feel lonely. They were wonderful guests and dining companions as always! Since it was Michele's birthday, it seemed appropriate to go to Pearl, featuring five different Bloody Mary varieties - FIVE! The mimosa/sparkly beverage list was impressive too, with several juice options for the mimosa and many other concoctions. I was the lone non-Bloody drinker this weekend, and enjoyed both a traditional mimosa and a specialty champagne cocktail, of which I can unfortunately not remember the name or find online. I remember both being delicious, with the specialty drink disappearing especially quickly.
The benedict seemed to be a popular option among all guest brunchers, with three ordering the crab cake benedict and one going the traditional route. I stole a sample of my manpanion's crab cake benedict; it was delicious! I had serious brunch dish envy. Since I don't think I've convinced him to write another awesome review, I'll say it was very, very good. The eggs were perfectly runny, and the crab cake was practically filler-free.
Since so many brunchers went the benedict route, I took one for the brunching team and ordered the California Huevos. With all the huevos rancheros dishes I've tried, I'm starting to understand the slight nuances that go into a great dish. There was avocado, so obviously that's a huge plus. The corn, black bean, potato, and white cheddar cheese combination below the runny eggs was slightly sweet with crunch from the corn and softness from the beans and potato. The fried tortilla shell added another crispy texture (and lots of calories!) Two thumbs up for Pearl. I'm sure I'll be back, either for their awesome happy hour or a Saturday brunch with my favorite non-lady brunch companion. (However, for oysters I'll stick with Rappahannock Restaurant. I swoon.)
Michele: This weekend we celebrated my birthday brunch at Pearl. It only seemed fitting to drag everyone to a restaurant with 5 Bloody Mary varieties. We had lots of guests for brunch this week, both Richmonders and visitors from out of town. The staff at Pearl easily accommodated us at a table for 6 in the back room. In addition to having a great view of Strawberry St., we had a great view of a huge bro brunch inside the restaurant. Entertainment both inside and out.
I selected the Bayou Bloody Mary from the list of 5 delicious choices. Between all the Bloody drinkers this week, we sampled 4 of the varieties. My drink was made with clamato juice and had a big ol' shrimp as a garnish. It was a little mild compared to what I usually drink, but I liked it best of all the drinks at the table. We also ordered a dozen oysters for the table to start out. We decided on the sampler that featured three varieties of raw oysters. We couldn't keep our paws away when the tray arrived, so unfortunately we forgot to take a picture of our oyster feast.
For my birthday meal this week I selected the roast pork omelette. To say I was unconcerned about omelette dryness would be a lie. Thankfully my first bite revealed a thick, fluffy, and moist omelette. Inside, the pork lacked flavor overall, but the Monterrey Jack cheese helped me ignore the bland meat. The potato pieces seemed a little large, but they were thoroughly cooked on the inside. The biscuit on the side was brown and crispy on the outside, fluffy and delightful on the inside.
I will definitely be back to Pearl. They have a great oyster happy hour during the week that I want to check out. The back half of the restaurant features garage doors that are opened on nice days, perfect for people-watching in the Fan.
Food - Good. With six people we didn't have as much variety as you may expect. Three people went after Karisa's heart with crab benedicts. Everyone agreed the yolks were perfectly cooked. Unfortunately, the birthday girl got unlucky with bland pork in her omelette.
Service - Good. Our server was training someone new over brunch, so it was more like we had two servers. The trainer excellently explained the types of oysters, but one guest bruncher's dish arrived quite a bit late.
Atmosphere - Very good. We had a nice big table in a well lit open space in the back of the restaurant with open garage doors and sky lights. Pearl benefited from the gorgeous day, but everyone loved the space. The front is perfectly dark if you have a hangover, the back is great if you didn't indulge too much the night before.
Coffee - Fair. The general consensus was that it was bitter and smelled like gas station coffee. There was a split decision, however, on if it was better or worse than WaWa house blend. All decided WaWa African blend is far superior.
Mimosa/other sprarkly beverages - Karisa was the only mimosa drinker, and enjoyed a fancy drink served in a champagne flute, and a more traditional mimosa served Richmond style over ice. Kathy would be so pleased!
Bloody Mary - Good. 5 different varieties, something for all tastes, interesting flavors like bacon and chipotle, many drinks had either an Old Bay and salt or a brown sugar and salt rim, although none featured Michele's favorite, salt and pepper rim.