Another fine evening in Richmond
It was an evening for a quiet celebration. Having kicked off ealier in the
afternoon with oysters and Veuve Clicquot, dinner had better
be somewhere pretty special. As luck would have it, we had booked a table for two
at Pearl, Geoff Lindsay's multiple award winning restaurant in Church Street,
Greeted warmly at the door, we were lead to our window side table for two at the
far end of the dining room. Sarah was struck by the sleek design, the sort of thing
usually lost on me. She especially liked the white wrap around chairs, which despite
their aesthetic appeal were also surprisingly comfortable (although one can't hang a
jacket from them, but this isn't really an issue in any restaurant with a cloak room).
My one complaint of the setting is the proximity of the tables to one another is about
half a meter closer than I would prefer, at one point the diners next to us appeared
to have a mild domestic disagreement which I would have been quite happy not knowing
about. But when measured against the quality of the food that was to come, this minor
complaint is easily forgiven.
As we'd been drinking French Champagne earlier in the day we steered
away from our more traditional sparkling start. Sarah opted instead for a Kir Royale and I a
gin and tonic, served with a choice of gin and cucumber slices decorating the
sides of the glass (very cool). Having won several awards for its wine list, Pearl's
is - as you'd expect - quite extensive. Split around 50/50 between domestic and imported,
I particularly noted the page full of Pinot with some bottle age, unfortunately for us
these all pushed into the three figure mark, so we decided to go with a slightly
younger (2005) Burgandy with mains (Domaine Jean-Michel Gibourg Savigny-les-Beaune $80).
But I'm getting ahead of myself. First to entree, where Sarah decided that she couldn't go
past the Boned whole garfish, wrapped in rice paper and hot mint, stuffed with spicy pork and sticky rice sausage, mrs t’s magical sauce of crushed pineapple, chilli and mam men($32) while I opted for the
‘Burrata’ a soft in the centre buffalo cheese knot from milla milla, far north queensland, with smoked ham hock and creamed field mushrooms($26). Between the soft creamy cheese knot, the beautifully smoked ham and the richly flavoured
mushroom, I was a happy man. My mood only matched perhaps, by the look on Sarah's face as she sampled the
sauce surrounding the crispy wrapped garfish. This was turning into a very good night of dining.
Mains presented somewhat of a challenge, purely because there was barely an item on the menu we didn't
want to order. After some intense discussion, we decided that if I got the rabbit, Sarah would get the duck.
And what a duck it was too. This is not to take away from my main of
Macleay valley white rabbit stuffed with red grapes, wrapped in prosciutto, verjus sauce with chestnut risotto, grilled rabbit liver, caramelised shallots and braised beetroot stems($41), which was amazingly moist, especially
for rabbit. The sourness of the whole grapes stuffed delicately into the flesh added a delicious contrast in
both taste and texture. But Sarah's duck was the star of the evening.
Pearl's signature dish is the Roast red duck curry, a crispy fried egg, shallots, mint, sweet fish sauce and coconut rice
($42), but it entirely unlike what I expected a red duck curry to be. For a start, it's kind of DIY. Arriving in three
small bowls, the idea is (as explained by our waiter) to assemble the curry yourself, starting with the coconut rice, adding
duck and spices as you like. The duck has been marrinated in soy for 12 hours prior to cooking, and the curry added just
prior to plating. This results in a wonderfully rich dish of salty duck with the curry flavours shining through. It was amazingly
good, and complimented well with the Burgandy mentioned earlier.
Somehow, dessert easily lived up to the expectations built up throughout the evening. The Jaffa Mouse with jellied espresso
and vanilla foam was astounding, the jellied espresso stood out especially due to its wonderful bitterness. Do not eat this
without the foam unless you're a big fan of black coffee. Luckily I am. I assumed Sarah's mandarin souffle was enjoyable from
the size of her smile as she ate, the young coconut sorbet it came with was as good as it sounds.
It was basically a perfect evening. If you're celebrating something pretty special, and can make your way to Richmond,
Pearl won't let you down.