A desperate call for Pearl Oyster Bar’s blueberry pie

Pearl Oyster Bar
18 Cornelia St
(between 4th St & Bleecker St)
New York, NY 10014

There are so many great places to eat in NYC that sometimes I forget to return to my favorites. Pearl Oyster Bar is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC for a number of reasons:

  1. I love seafood. Especially oysters, grilled fish, and lobster rolls, all things Pearl makes ridiculously well.
  2. Pearl is unpretentious.
  3. Something about the space, lighting, and simple furniture sucks me into a vacuum where I forget where I am and how long I’ve been eating.
  4. Pearl makes the best blueberry pie.

The fourth reason is the reason you must eat at Pearl in the summer months between June and August. Any other time, you are more likely to end up with some kind of strawberry-rhubarb or cherry-something pie. I find their non-blueberry pies to be underwhelming, often too sweet for my taste. Their blueberry pie tastes way less syrupy and more like the actual fruit. Imagine grabbing a large handful of fresh summer blueberries, the kind that is fat and bulbous, bursting with flavor, and eating it all in one monstrous bite.

LAW and I went at the very end of August because I realized I had not had Pearl’s blueberry pie yet and freaked out a little bit. I was excited the entire week for our Pearl meal. On the day of, I reminded LAW at least five times about going that evening. Come 7 or 8PM, I found that he was still working on something he needed to get out by 3AM. All of a sudden I became grumpy and extremely sad that we may not end up making it to Pearl and that I would have to wait an entire year for blueberry pie. LAW must have saw the desperation in my eyes and immediately understood the urgency. He carved out two hours for me as we raced to Pearl on our bikes. The stars aligned at this point. Normally, the wait would have been at least 30 to 45 minutes. There was still a line but there were miraculously two free seats at the bar that no one wanted.

 We started with the seasonal Shrimp and Lobster Gazpacho ($9). The chilled tomato soup was flavorful and light. LAW didn’t like the crunchy bits of celery in the soup which seemed to get in the way of the tomato. Shrimp and lobster were both sweet and fresh, though, I wish they had been more integrated into the soup. They just sat in the soup instead.

 We also shared half a dozen of market oysters ($8 or 9). I don’t believe we were told what kind of oysters these were. They were not too briny but also not too creamy or sweet.

I ordered the Whole Grilled Fish, which normally comes with a dorade but this time was a Florida pompano (about $30).
The fish was fatty, flakey, and sweet, just like I like most of my fish (see miso cod!). It came with grilled shiitake mushrooms, red peppers, zucchini, asparagus, and green beans. The fish was stuffed with a lot of rosemary. The fish’s natural sweetness and freshness was luckily not killed with over seasoning. It tasted great with just some simple sea salt and lemon.

I ate up every last piece of it. So good.

LAW got the Lobster Roll ($28 or 29), which one of us always gets when we come. This is really what Pearl is known for. Imagine a warm, buttery toasted bun sandwiched with large chunks of chilled lobster tossed with mayo and seasoning (maybe celery salt?). It comes with a healthy side of shoestring fries (and by healthy, I don’t actually mean healthy) that we flavor liberally with malted vinegar. I alternated between bites of sweet, fatty fish, grilled veggies, lobster roll, and shoestring fries dipped in ketchup mixed with tabasco.

Aaaaand last but not least, we shared the blueberry pie ($9), which came in the form of a blueberry crumble this time. It is served with a side of vanilla Il Laboratorio gelato, one of my favorite gelato places (try the white sesame!). LAW let me have my own private moment with the pie as I scooped up the perfect ratio of pie filling to pie crust/crumble to gelato for every bite. The tartness from the blueberries and the creamy vanilla gelato made me the happiest girl in the room that night.

After our dinner, we rushed back home and I helped LAW finish his work. We reached the deadline just in time. A successful night!

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