A couple weeks ago, Rocky flew out to the west coast to visit family and left me alone in the city, which really isn’t significant to this post at all, except maybe that that’s why I went as a solo diner to visit Pearl & Ash, a super cool restaurant on Bowery headed up by Richard Kuo, who was one half of last summer’s pop-up Scandinavian sensation Frej(along with Chef Fredrik Berselius, currently of Aska).
I arrived just a few minutes after opening and was given the option to sit at the bar or a communal. The bar it was. I started with a glass of Gatinois Champagne while I thought about dinner, fresh apple with citrus-y acidity, light minerals and yeast, and a tart finish. The menu is broken down into six sections: raw, small, fish, meat, vegetables, and sugar. I wanted to get a good taste of what Kuo was cooking up, so I started out with all the raw and small dishes, one fish, and one meat(the latter two are offered in full or half portions). I ended up with one plate from the vegetables and both from the sugar as well.
Ama-ebi, smoked lime yogurt, radish, bee pollen. True to the name, pleasantly sweet shrimp, accompanied by some good acid from the lime yogurt, radish spice, and a little salty crunch.
Tea cured salmon, goat cheese, tamarind, seaweed. Nice strips of salmon with a little tang and pleasant light bitterness from the tea cure. The seaweed beneath was simply wonderful, well dressed, with a great snap. A small amount of goat cheese for a little fun.
Diver scallop, fennel, lily bulb, berbere. The toasted(torched) berbere spice was really neat against the sweetness of the scallop. The pickled lily bulbs added nice florality(not yet a real word).
Hanger, egg, cocoa, melba. Tasty tartare of impressively tender hanger steak accented with juniper and a little harisa paste that warms up nicely on the finish.
Octopus, sunflower seed, shiso. This plate was delicious. Like a spicy BBQ octopus. Braised and flashed, served in a reduction of mirin and sriracha that carried some pretty decent heat, along with a little mellow shiso.
Duck confit, red cabbage, celery. Confit duck in panko breadcrumb and slice of confit leg draped atop. Kickin acidity from pickled red cabbage puree and tart earthy astringency from celery ribbons and leaves made a cool dynamic with the rich duck.
Quail, almond, pomegranate, chicken skin. The bird was deboned and rewrapped in its skin, sausage style. The pomegranate, while fairly sweet, was a good enough companion to the quail. The chicken skin, made into a type of salty crumble, was awesome.
Skate, chermoula, cauliflower, leek. This was the only plate I disliked. While the smooth whipped cauliflower was tasty, and the leeks were decent, the skate had a weak density. The salt, rather than helping, was a striking contrast to the bland,
almost mushy fish.
Potatoes, porcini mayo, chorizo. An extra from the kitchen. Damn. These were some kick-ass spuds. Super soft inside with crispy crunchy outside. Topped with some killer sauce and chorizo. Solid.
Pork meatballs, shiitake, bonito. When this bowl hit the bar, I was mesmerized by the hypnotic contracting of the bonito flakes..like a living dish! Simple pleasures.. Superb meatballs with soppressata, mushrooms, and a sweet sauce.
Fernet-branca ice cream sandwich. Lightly herbaceous ice cream with a very mild touch of bitterness in delightfully fun packaging.
Coffee parfait & cake. A mildly tangy parfait with bright flavored lemon poundcake, preserved lemon, and creme fraiche. I don’t often like lemon in desserts, but this plate, a take on the coffee and donuts that Kuo & crew used to consume pre-opening, was surprisingly nice.
In addition to Chef Richard’s fantastic food, I was impressed by wine guy Patrick Cappiello’s superb accomplishment of a list. I had a fantastic bottle of 1990 Schloss Schonborn riesling for a very fair $52 and a glass of cab franc by Bernard Baudry, currently my favorite Chinon producer. Given its location just blocks from my gym, and the great value for tasty food, I anticipate I’ll be returning to Pearl & Ash soon. Plus once I post this Rocky is going to be pissed off that she hasn’t been yet.
Date of visit: April 1, 2013
Pearl & Ash. 220 Bowery, NYC 212.837.2370 www.pearlandash.com