With its oyster bar, Loop restaurant Pearl Tavern has a seafood focus. Although possibly one of the better options in the Loop, I think it still relies heavily on its location in Chicago’s financial district and proximity to the theatre district. The food is tasty and nicely plated, but for the price, there are better restaurants in the city.
The tuna has an almost shredded feel, not as clean of a chop as I’d like. The chips are crunchy and thin but not as delicate as I’d expected. There’s a lot of salty sauce on bottom. What I thought was an excessive about of wasabi was actually avocado, smooth and put through a fancy nozzle. Big but nicely cut chunks of Asian pear give texture and juiciness. It’s tasty enough, but for sixteen dollars. I want the tuna to shine.
Technically, the pasta is very al dente cavatappi, not macaroni. The togarashi breadcrumbs give it a kick, and I think the heat overpowers the sweetness of the lobster.
The spiced butternut squash puree is well spiced, very light – almost fluffy, and smooth. The three scallops have an uneven sear but are otherwise nicely cooked. The beurre blanc has a gingery warmth. I don’t know that the flavors go well together, and I wouldn’t generally pay twenty-five dollars for it, but it was tasty.
There are only five average-size shrimp but a whole saucer of grits. The grits are tasty but extremely rich, particularly with the gravy. The shrimp are flavorful and nicely cooked, juicy with just the right snap.
Pearl Tavern has changed the salmon burger since I tried it. The capers in remoulade give it flavor, but between the avocado and the soft salmon patty, it has a mushy texture.
Pearl Tavern serves Hoosier Mama pies for dessert, which is smart. Hoosier Mama makes a great pie, and this individual pie with tender, flaky pastry is no exception. Vanilla bean specked stabilized whipped cream is mounded over chunks of banana, with a thick curl of white chocolate garnish.
Pearl Tavern – 180 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60622