The Pearl was a highly anticipated restaurant when it opened early this year for a host of reasons. It featured a full-on oyster bar, took over a prime location in the Short North (the former Burgundy Room space), and was from noted restaurateur Cameron Mitchell. What flew somewhat under the radar was The Pearl’s offering of an interesting drinking destination.
Walking in, past the eye-catching bubble light sign, the bar is immediately on the left and immediately noticeable. Presenting a slight speakeasy aesthetic — only more modernized it’s decked-out in shadowy gray woods, chalkboards sporting the draft beers and some old-fashioned bar tchotchkes. It’s obviously an upscale setting, but never goes so far as to be uninviting.
Also inside the bar area is a number of high-top tables and a Restoration Hardware-esque lounge occupied by leather couches and chairs. The best part is, like the neighboring Marcella’s, the huge front windows open up letting the breeze in. There’s a pair of high-tops tucked in the corner, next to said windows and the oyster bar — which is a stunning work of design — that are surely the most popular seats in the house.
Behind the bar The Pearl is presenting some popular trends: barrel-aged cocktails (currently a Manhattan and margarita), some punches and a handful of classic cocktails — all for $10. The punches are ideal for the season and can be ordered for a group of four ($38), but it’d be hard to pass on the barrel-aged libations and the Ramos Gin Fizz (using Watershed Bourbon Barrel Gin).
The draft list at the Pearl is simple, but carries some superb options. The St. Bernardus Abt 12 is a succulent Trappist Quad. Recently, The Pearl commissioned North High Brewing to craft a house-signature Oyster Stout exclusively for the bar.
One the nosh side, there are a half-dozen nacks that are half-off — along with all drafts — during happy hour (4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday). Order the Old Fashioned Deviled Eggs ($6). The starters offer more substance for a few bucks more. The Pearl is currently undergoing an expansion of its happy hour options which should be available in a month.
Photo by Tim Johnson