Pearl and Ash
220 Bowery between Prince Street and Spring Street, Nolita
Getting There: B,D,F,M to Broadway-Lafayette Street; 6 to Spring Street; J to Bowery
Restaurant Review: Pearl & Ash
Now replete with a bevy of high profile restaurants, the story of the once rundown Bowery continues to be re-written by a New York City style transformation of scenester-laden refinement. The recently opened Pearl and Ash from Chef Richard Kuo continues the trend of sleek and chic, without the wallet busting price points that have seemingly become the norm for new eateries. And like discovering a shining pearl hidden in the belly of a clamshell, Pearl and Ash becomes the latest gem in the middle of one of Manhattan’s most bandied about downtown neighborhoods.
A step inside Pearl and Ash and we were immediately transported from the Bowery bustle to an almost Zen-like setting, coupled with energetic rock music blaring and a buzz of conversation around us. The space is long and narrow, dimly lit overhead and supplemented by tabletop candlelight. A preponderance of rectangular wooden shelving decorates the restaurant’s entire wall, with knick-knacks docked seemingly everywhere as makeshift conversation pieces. The bar meanwhile hosts a dozen or so backless stools in front of a tastefully illuminated display of bottles and a friendly staff of bartenders, each of whom are more than willing to explain the restaurant’s concept and its cocktail program. The “Dark Horse Candidate” ($14) which is stout based but drinks like a delicious without being overly sweet smoothie, is a must try here.
What’s truly exceptional about the menu at Pearl and Ash is the fact that nary an offered plate is priced above $16, accomplished by a selection of “Raw” and “Small” bites and main courses which can be ordered in small or large sizes. Although the large portions can run as high as $28, there is truly no price gouging here. That said, we made sure to taste a good chunk of the entire menu despite the fact that we probably over-ordered some. We opened with the “Diver Scallop” ($6). Served smack in the middle of a massive white plate, the three delicate scallops were doused minimally in a light broth, seasoned and surrounded with fennel. The raw “Hanger” ($7) however was a true home run. Dusted with cocoa placed near the smearing of a bright yellow egg yolk, the dish was exceptionally plated, and served alongside a crunchy melba toast to lap up the entirety of the tasty chilled meat.
From there we moved on toward the ‘Small’ portion of the menu where the grilled tentacles of the “Octopus” ($9) had an exceptional char and the crispy “Duck Confit” ($10) served atop fresh red cabbage and celery was downright mouthwatering. The tender and juicy “Pork Meatballs” ($9) however were the standout dish here, topped with bonito flakes and delicious shitake mushrooms. There are just so many culinary cultures infused into the menu that it’s impossible to label Pearl and Ash one way or another- and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We ordered up the tasty “Brussels Sprouts” ($6) meshed with shaves of pearl onions and the generously portioned, but heavy “Potatoes” ($6), served with slices of salty chorizo and topped with a porcini mayonnaise as side dishes to accompany our main entrees. Typically for us, mussels can be hit or miss, but Pearl and Ash’s were downright excellent. Served de-shelled the small sized portion of “Mussels” ($13) were creamy and rich, beside hen of the woods mushrooms and covered in greens. Finally, the large sized “Quail” ($24) was truly an attractive looking dish. Served over sweet pomegranate, the tender sliced bird was delivered with its crispy salty skin still enveloping- and providing a savory contrast with- the tender perfectly prepared meat.
From its cool ambiance and casual setting to its excellent service and tremendous fare, Pearl and Ash delivered a truly fantastic dining experience from start to finish. Although sometimes it can take a few weeks for a newly opened restaurant to work out the kinks before functioning properly, the restaurant seems to have hit the ground running from concept to execution. Pearl and Ash may be the latest spot to assist in the renaissance of the Bowery, but for its value and its cuisine alone, the hotspot is a true diamond in the rough.
Rundown of the Meal
Dark Horse Candidate ($14)*
Spiritual America ($13)
Diver Scallop ($6)
Pork Meatballs ($9)*
Duck Confit ($10)
Mussels ($13, small)*
Quail ($24, large)*
Brussels Sprouts ($6)*