Every once in a while this Blue Collar Foodie decides to attempt to impress his Blue Collar Wifey with a date night de jour. For most people this entails a dinner and night out on the town, but for Kat and I, who run around like Usain Bolt on amphetamines every day, this involves eating at a new restaurant and pulling up some couch with our mammals. No that is not a euphemism, I literally mean sitting on the couch with my lovely wife and our furry children and watching whatever programs are scattered across our DVR. I know this sounds dull and perhaps even slightly unromantic, but I assure you that if you looked at the anarchy that is our calendar, which resembles a Jackson Pollock painting most of the time, you would agree that a relaxing evening would be utter bliss.
As a food writer I tend to turn towards the internets quite often to locate local restaurants that I should be eating at, and I suggest you do the same. As I was planning our date night, I came across a restaurant called Pearl Restaurant,which is located at 17 South Broad Street in Ridgewood, NJ. After reading some of the reviews that were scattered across the great plains of the interwebs, I made the executive decision to have our date night at Pearl Restaurant.
Since Pearl is designed to be an intimate setting that is perfect for the couple experience, I recommend making a reservation before your arrival. Not only will you be guaranteed a table, but it will appear classier to your partner who you are trying to charm. When making said reservation keep in mind that Pearl Restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating, and if you are a people watcher like me, the streets of Ridgewood are absolutely perfect for this voyeuristic hobby. Since we had a reservation, even on a busy Friday night, Kat and I were seated within minutes of our arrival in the dining area.
The interior of Pearl is simply enchanting and should make any female foodie swoon, making you look like a prodigious partner. The muted lighting is soft and pleasing as is the modern yet subtle music that is played throughout the restaurant. Furthermore the addition of a small candle on every table adds to the already romantic composition of this eatery.
Within seconds of our rumps resting in the seats, we were cordially received by our waiter who furnished us with the menu of today’s fare. One of the reasons that Pearl Restaurant was extremely appealing to me was the fact that their menu changes daily, based on the availability of the highest quality meats and fish that were found at the market earlier that morning. Additionally, Pearl does not have a freezer or a microwave on the premises, so everything that you will be served at this epicurean honey hole is fresh and cooked to order.
By the way to add to the appeal of Pearl, it is a BYOB establishment which always makes this frugal foodie happier than TMZ when a rapper gets arrested. With our bottle of white uncorked, poured, and placed in a bucket by the once again extremely helpful wait staff, we turned our focus on tackling the serious menu that was placed in front of us. With the precision of a Bill Belichick defense, get used to a myriad of football references in the coming months I am not only a foodie but a hardcore sports fan, we sorted through the menu and found what we considered to be the perfect dishes to embody the philosophy of Pearl.
I decided on the Goffle Farm Raised Crispy Pearl Duckling that was served with an Orange- Lavender Honey Gastrique, with a side of Seasonal Vegetables and Starch Du Jour. My delightful dining companion went with the Goffle Farm Raised Hen that was also paired with Seasonal Vegetables and Starch Du Jour. Considering that we are both trying to remain someone healthy while still participating in as many gastronomic adventures as our wallets will allow, we also ordered a Pearl House Salad to accompany our enticing entrees.
Kat and I sipped our wine and caught up on each other’s recent undertakings, accomplishments, and tribulations while enjoying the ambiance of Pearl. While pontificating and politicking fresh warm bread was brought to our table that was joined by a bowl of high end olive oil and a mysterious orange paste. Since both Kat and I are intrigued by new and uncommon foods, we of course immediately halted our conversation and almost in unison, with the grace of an Olympic synchronized swimming team, broke a piece off of the bread and dipped it directly into this cream of curiosity. Our lack of food related anxiety paid off, as this hummus like concoction made our taste buds sing louder than this demonic six year old on America’s got talent. The texture was somewhat velvety and the flavor was not overpowering which made it the perfect accomplice for the flakey warm bread that was served. We later asked our waiter what this magical mixture was and we were informed that it is basically a white bean hummus.
After annihilating the bread and most of the dip, our house salads arrived. I was tremendously impressed with not only the size of this salver of greens but also the quality of the produce. Normally when you order a house salad at an elegant restaurant it is smaller than Kate Hudson’s waistband and overdressed more than Elton John circa 1977. This just was not the case when it came to Pearl’s salad. The light vinaigrette allowed the fresh and crisp garden greens to show off their delightful flavor creating a perfect introduction to the amazing meal that we were about to partake in.
With our appetites properly teased, we were appropriately prepared for our main dishes. Without delay, they were delivered to our table and both dishes were visually stunning. It was obvious that whoever plated these meals was painstakingly attentive to every iota of eatable that graced our plates. On top of the fact that the food in front of us looked as if it should grace the cover of Bon Appetit magazine, the aroma that was wafting off our plates was damn near intoxicating. I almost had to go fifty shades of grey all up on Kat in order to restrain her from attacking her meal like a honey badger attacks a snake before I could get the sufficient amount of pictures.
With the photographs taken, it was time to taste the artwork that was sitting in front of me. I slowly cut into my duck with the meticulousness of a surgeon and lifted the first bite of my duck towards my mouth. The instant this savory, crispy, citrusy, deliciousness I fully understood why Elmer Fudd relentlessly hunted Daffy. The skin of the duck was expertly cooked to a crunchy perfection while the flesh of the duck was moist yet surprisingly not greasy at all. To add to the overall excellence of this dish, the orange lavender gastrique brought this flawlessly prepared poultry to a whole other level of divinity. I have had quite a bit of duck in my day, being that it is my favorite fowl dish, and this was by far the best I have eaten in my foodie career. I had to force myself to stop eating the duck and at least try the vegetables and mashed potato that accompanied my delightful duck, and I was happy I did. The green beans were exquisitely cooked with just the right texture and the potatoes were bursting with flavor.
Kat being the wonderful wife that she is, cut a piece of her hen dipped it into the sauce that accompanied it, and fed me the forkful. I am never prepared for the difference between store bought poultry and farm bought poultry, and this was no exception. As I masticated, it means chewing people get your mind out of the gutter, on this heavenly chicken, I pondered why any restaurant would purchase frozen food when locally sourced farm raised fare is available literally one town over. I then realized that the answer is simple, some people just don’t have the same passion for food as the proprietor of restaurants like Pearl.
One of the notations about Pearl that I read on the internet was that most of their desserts are prepared table side. I always enjoy a little showmanship when out to eat, so Kat and I decided to throw caution to the wind, break our diets and order something sweet to finish off our already pleasant night. After careful consideration, because dessert ordering is not to be taken lightly, we decided on the Chocolate Mousse with a Peanut Butter and Graham Cracker Crumble, topped with a raspberry marshmallow fluff that was toasted table side with a torch. Yes it was as good as it sounds, in fact, I would venture to say that it was better than it sounds! This is the type of dessert that could cause you to fall off the diet wagon and descend deep into the self-loathing hate spiral that is diet failure, but it was well worth the risk.
The Pearl Restaurant was as advertised, a restaurant that is unique as a Pearl. Their quixotic ambiance, exceptionally helpful and gracious wait staff, and their remarkable food make this establishment one of Bergen Counties must try eateries. I strongly suggest that the next time you are trying to dazzle your significant other, you allow Pearl in Ridgewood to assist you in making your night a memorable and scrumptious evening.