A perfect restaurant is very hard to come by.
When Michelin released its DC guide, only 3 restaurants received the 2 stars accolade, Pineapple and Pearls being one of them.
The meal at Pineapple and Pearl is unique in its owner’s ideal. Chef Aaron Silverman champions the philosophy of progressive fine dining, focusing more on making the customers feel comfortable and maximizing the experience over traditional white tablecloth restaurants of Europe. The cuisine at Pineapple and Pearls reflects that idea very well, being minimalistic in preparation and plating and instead focuses more on bringing out the best experience for the customer.
The restaurant is divided into 3 sections, the bar, the dining room, and the chef counter. The same tasting menu is served at all 3 area, the only difference being the mandatory drink pairing is not required at bar seating. I opted for the bar because that was the only section of the restaurant offering reservation for 1.
The meal started off with the restaurant’s signature dish, beautifully presented yogurt and fennel bonbon paired with a refreshing fennel juice spiked with a dash of absinthe.
A series of one bite items follow, beginning with a delicious beef tartare and caviar.
“We tried to make a takoyaki, but using truffle instead of octopus,” said the chef. Truffle really does make everything better. Strong, earthy shaved truffle paired exquisitely with a truffle sauce, all covering a crispy and moist hoecake.
The bread service was strong. Rich and complex mole paired well with warm tortillas.
A single strand of thick, chewy noodle was accompanied by sweet jonah crab, citrus segments, and tempura flakes for an interesting dish. I was instructed by the host to eat the noodle in one whole strand to ensure happiness and prosperity in the future.
The single best dish of the night. A plate that is more art than food, a mosaic of smoked sturgeons and cubed vegetables sat atop a smooth onion custard and a sweet consomme. Each component perfectly balanced each other, from the salty sturgeon to the crunchy vegetables to the subtle custard to the amazing consomme. All made an amazing dish.
The most traditional preparation of the night, a crispy seared, moist filet of seabass was paired with a duo of braised and pureed salsify, finished with a red wine sauce.
The meat course was the most underwhelming of the night. Slow cooked lamb was paired with an array of forgettable sides. With every other course before being wow dishes, the lamb failed to deliver to its hefty expectation. I was looking forward to having Pineapple and Pearl’s previous meat course, the DC Steakhouse, and was very disappointed when upon knowing that they have taken the dish off the menu only a few day beforehand.
The cheese course was great. Warm, taleggio-like, slightly funky Grayson was paired with a sweet and tart quince compote, making for a very balanced and complex bite.
This palate cleanser is a perfect transition from savory to sweet. The host poured soda over a slightly sour tangerine granita that was cleverly placed inside a hollow tangerine. The tangerine flavor shined through with its freshness, cutting the soda’s sugar.
The second dessert of the night was a flourless chocolae cake with chestnuts and potato ice cream. The delicious, not too sweet potato ice cream worked very well against the dense chocolate cake while the fried chestnuts were there to add textures. A very good dessert.
After the meal was over the host brought over a plate of mignardises composed of various candied fruits for a nice and refreshing finish.
What stood out for me the most about this meal was not the impeccably prepared food but the warm hospitality the restaurant provided. After the meal, I ordered a nice glass of scotch. Upon getting the bill for my meal, I was surprised to find that the drinks were not added. In confusion, I asked the host only for him to point out that the drinks were the restaurant’s birthday present for me. I glady consumed my present. Chef Silverman truly knows how to make any customers feel special.