633 Church Street
I dropped by Pearl a while ago, during the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. It was a late afternoon yet when we walked in it was packed to the brim with people, most of whom were indulging in the Express Lunches. It’s been a while since I’ve been back to Pearl. We were looking at furniture along Church Street and dropped by for a quick afternoon bite. The Express Lunch looked a little heavy so we opted for a quick selection from their entrees.
I loved breaking through the crust to discover the warm and soft bread within. The olive oil had underlying lemon tones.
Betel Leaf with King Prawn and Four Flavour Sauce, Pomelo, Thai Basil & Crispy Shallot ($7)
One of the messier and poorer betel leaf plates I’ve had. I’ve always found Betel Leaf wraps infallible, notably the ones at Coda, Easy Tiger or the Smith. The wrap was far too sweet, the sauce trickled everywhere, and the prawns were overshadowed by everything else. Even the betel leaf which was beautifully inconspicuous at the Smith, was particularly prominent here.
Freshly Shucked Moonlight Flat Clair de Lune Oysters with Green Chilli & Spearmint Nam Jim and Ginger & Yuzu Dressing ($4 each)
The oysters were beautifully fresh, and served with top shell intact similar to the Brix (which I adore but have not been back since the kitchen has changed hands early this year). Both of the dressings were quite light but I still prefer the nam jim which had a slightly more discernible flavour.
Steamed Jumbo Scallop with Pearl’s XO Sauce ($6)
The scallop was fresh and firm, with a mild xo sauce and dried shrimp atop.
Clarence River School Prawns with Sichuan & Mandarin Salt, Sweet Chilli and Peanut Relish ($11)
Beautifully crisp and delicious, an ever popular bar snack, no different to the one at Golden Fields or the ones I had recently at Union Dining. The acidity of the lemon works nicely.
Blue Swimmer Crab Cakes with Green Chilli Mayonnaise ($12)
The batter was quite heavy, and the blue swimmer crab cake was literally a garbled paste within. I could not discern any blue swimmer crab morsels, unlike the heavenly crab tempura and prawn dumplings at Ocha, which were brimming with luscious crab and prawn morsels respectively.
I want to love Pearl. It’s near me, and it’s such a lovely setting for a ladies’ lunch with champagne flutes. And yet, it has occurred to me that for each dish, I can’t help but think of another. In Pearl’s defense, I have yet to try their famed Mud Crab or the Red Duck Curry. Perhaps those will do the trick.