Pineapple & Pearls
Chips & Dip – Smoke Mushroom, Huitlacoche Masa / Cotija, Black Mole, Garlic Crema Masa / Broccoli Rabe Salsa Verde, Avocado Masa
Abalone Panna Cotta – Sake Dashi, Mustard Frill, Shiso, Salsify Cream
Barely Cooked Salmon – Trout Roe, Vin Blanc, Tarragon, Artichoke, Cucumbers, Cream
Bass Veronique – Black Bass, Sour Grape Chutney, Sliced Grape “Scales,” Parsley Chamomile Sauce
Breakfast of Champions – Soft Grits with Eggs, Bone Marrow Brioche, 1/2 oz Osetra Caviar
Beggars Purse – Beet Pasta, Ricotta Cheese, Egg Yolk, Burgundy Truffle, Parmesan Broth
Squash Blossom Taco –Ricotta, Garlic, Fresno Chili, Cashew-Almond White Mole, Fried Oregano, Jalapeno
Grilled Australian Wagyu – Kalamata Olives. Summer Savory, Charred Lemon / Smoked Eggplant Puree, New Potatoes, Cipollini Onion, Baby Fennel
Fennel Seed Sorbet – Labneh Cream, Italian Meringue, Absinthe
Pecorino Cake – Pesto Ice Cream, Pine Nut, Basil, Olive Oil
Fruit Plate – Caramelized Gooseberry / Sour Patch Kid Persimmon / Frozen Banana Pop, Dark Chocolate, Candied Nuts
Take Home – Pear Compote, Herb Butter
Without question the most highly anticipated dinner during a recent trip to Washington DC, Chef Aaron Silverman’s fine dining follow-up to Rose’s Luxury garnering all sorts of accolades including two stars from Michelin in consecutive guides, it was during the only allotted time for solitary patrons that several guests checked-in at the hostess stand and barista station up front, a complimentary glass of Cava quickly poured and each individually led to their tall chair at the bar less than ten feet away.
Actually a process that began more than one month prior, the online reservation system releasing seats at a designated time and $90 charged up front plus $90 more added one-week prior to the meal seemingly the only way to dine at Pineapple & Pearls without also investing in a Wine Pairing, the difference between solos and larger groups is immediately made apparently not only in the fact that the lone time offered is 9pm but also in the service, those seated in the dining room jovial and interactive while those at the bar have food delivered by the Chefs with the Bartender barely checking save for swapping out utensils.
In no way formulaic “fine dining,” Silverman’s whimsical style and creativity from Rose’s carried next door with more ‘luxury’ ingredients, softer lighting and white walls decorated in stylized photographs, it was after declining wine from a by-the-glass menu but agreeing to the $60 Caviar ‘supplement’ that the first plate of the night arrived from the kitchen, a wooden box unfolded to reveal contents including three styles of what were essentially naked Tamales, the earthy combination of Mushrooms and Corn Smut easily the best though the others were fairly comparable to those one might find in Mexico.
Continuously robbed of any element of surprise, the kitchen clearly working on a clock that sees each plate delivered at a specified time interval and two people who chose to loudly discuss politics all evening receiving every dish approximately 2-3 minutes prior no matter how fast or slow each individual ate, it was with Abalone cooked as Panna Cotta and topped with several poignant accoutrements that one wondered why use something relatively endangered when an Oyster could have just as easily gotten lost, the “Barely Cooked Salmon” performing slightly better in spite of the Tarragon which, like the Shiso and Salsify, threatened to overwhelm the featured ingredient.
Improving as the night sauntered onward, though anyone expecting to be full upon leaving Pineapple & Pearls is likely to be searching for a Pizza on Barracks Row, it was prior to the luxurious Caviar dish marred only by a matchstick of Toast that a 1oz filet of Black Bass was served “Veronique” with Grape Chutney and thin slices resembling scales, the aromatic Chamomile Sauce probably the most skilled bit of cooking seen all night, particularly when compared to the thick and chewy Pasta wrapped around Ricotta Cheese and a cool Egg Yolk with flavorless Burgundy Truffles microplaned on top largely for looks as flavor was almost entirely absent.
Recently replacing the highly praised Sweetbread Taco with a Squash Blossom, the Vegetarian-friendly dish mostly spice beyond the interplay of crunchy and creamy textures, it was with the clock now past 11:00pm and Cell-phone battery dwindling thanks to having nothing more engaging to look at that the meal’s “final savory” was presented, the Medium-rare Australian Wagyu a perfectly decent cut of Beef but otherwise fairly forgettable alongside a small bowl of Potatoes, Onions, Fennel and Eggplant.
Transitioning to sweet with Fennel Seed Sorbet, a well-executed move when combined with sour and bitter considering the prior dish’s flavor profile, it was almost expectedly that Pineapple & Pearls’ primary Dessert would rely on converting something traditionally savory into something else, the flavors of Pesto delivered in the form of Pecorino Cheesecake flanking tri-color Ice Cream featuring the taste of Pine Nuts, Basil and Olive Oil.
Visited once more by the youthful Chef tasked with bringing plates from the now 1/2 full dining room to the front it was both on top and inside of a box that “Fruit Plate” closed out the evening, a Caramelized Gooseberry only marginally better than the raw Fruit while the Sugar and Sour Persimmon as well as the one-bite riff on Frozen Banana were both nostalgic and well-crafted, though not enough to save Pineapples & Pearls from being a considerable disappointment.