Sneaky Fennel & Short Ribs

lunch at Pearl

Christine and I had lunch at Pearl today. This was very thrilling for me on many levels: one, because I hadn’t seen Christine in almost two months and I missed her; and two, because ’til today, I had only experienced Pearl for dinner or cocktails (both wonderful, but always crowded). Apparently the secret is not out yet; there were only two tables filled the whole time we were there, including ours. The server was quite attentive although he admitted he was New; he didn’t know if we were sitting on new chairs or not. (they seemed different but maybe it was just the difference between night and day, ha)

We ordered three “small plates” but they were hardly miniscule: crab cakes; flatbread with vegetables (sweet potato, feta and spinach? greens?) and short ribs. The flatbread was like a very delicate, delicious pizza with sweet potato puree instead of tomato sauce. Different, but yummy.

lunch at Pearl

The crab cakes were small – about the size of a large scallop – but just a perfect bite or two. In between the crab cakes lay a small quantity of extremely beautiful saladish material. Some flat strands of delicate white stuff with pale green dots; I thought it might be shaved jicama (I love jicama) along with some mandarin slices. It was all very fresh and a little crunchy and citrusy and perfect along with the crab cake. Christine said, “Do you think it is fennel?” I shuddered. “No way!” I hate fennel. I hate anything even remotely licorice tasting. I don’t like black licorice or even red licorice Red Vines. Ugh. So I adamantly shook my head and denied that it could be fennel. Our server came by to see how everything was. “Delicious!” we said. “But what is this white stuff?” We picked up a strand and held it up with a fork. “Oh, that’s fennel,” he said.

What?!?

I had eaten fennel and liked it?! Christine laughed. “I really like fennel, but I don’t like this particular fennel,” she said. She had known it was fennel all along, the sneaky girl! But she hadn’t let on because she knew I would have flung it across the room if only I’d known. Here she got me to eat fennel. I even had another bite after I knew, and I still liked it, but I was able to detect a very faint licorice undertaste. It wasn’t half as awful as I’d feared.

But the best thing on the menu was by far the short ribs. It was a completely boneless rib and when I touched it with a fork, it all just fell apart into melty, tender strands. It was shockingly delicious; braised on the outside and like butter on the inside. I was absolutely swoony. Unfortunately, the potatoey things (I really do not think they were potatoes, but what else could they be? some kind of root veggie) were hard as a rock. The only false note.

We virtuously passed on dessert, which was a good thing. Little did I know that I was going to be ordered to haul my bottom up 90 stairs ten times, less than an hour after this meal, so it really is just as well we didn’t get dessert. But it was, overall, one of the most satisfying lunches I’ve had in eons.

Oh, and P.S. Christine took all the stunning photos.

lunch at Pearl

5 responses to “Sneaky Fennel & Short Ribs

  1. Yes, it was a fantastic meal! I am glad we went out–and that we were able to indulge in such a delicious “secret” (yes, there really was only one other table there at the HEIGHT of lunch hour on a beautiful day).

    It felt like “our” restaurant, being almost the sole customers, didn’t it?

  2. Hmm, I”ve been wanting to try Pearl, and the fennel… who knew?! I feel the same way as you about fennel normally, so this I”ve got to try!

  3. the photos are gorgeous! now I’m craving fennel.😉

  4. I actually got my partner to eat fennel by not telling him what it was – just a nice blend of shaved fennel with orange slices, some fennel tops, salt and a dressing of the orange juice, olive oil and finally a dusting of crushed pink peppercorns… Was SO good!

  5. My aunt always “sneaks” onions in my uncle’s foods. He insists that he hates them but loves anything made with them where he can’t see them.

    I’m not usually a fan of fennel either but my mother has one ham soup recipe where it is the thing that makes the dish.

    That was awesome that you got to have such a great lunch with out all the people – and once again you took the best pictures.

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