Special thanks to Stacy Jethroe for contributing this guest blog. Stacy and I finally had the chance to meet in person a few weeks ago while she was in town. Here is her recap of our "girl date." Cheers!
by Stacy Jethroe
On paper, I am a West Coast girl. Born in San Fran, raised in the Midwest, a lengthy stint in Boston and back to California once again. Did I leave my heart in San Francisco like that Tony Bennett song suggests? Well, it can’t be denied that California sunshine is sublime, but my heart is East Coast all the way. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I had the pleasure of accompanying an Oakland jewelry designer to an industry trade show in Manhattan. This meant an opportunity to learn something new, an opportunity to visit with some very dear friends, an unexpected night out with two talented musicians with whom I had worked in Boston and, most importantly, a chance to finally meet Ms. Champagne Diaries herself. Up to this point, I had contributed two guest posts for The Champagne Diaries blog and shared numerous emails with Cara, but we had never met in person. Needless to say, I was uber excited about our rendezvous. We knew the choice of libation would be easy, but where to meet? Turns out, that choice was pretty easy, too. Enter: Pearl Oyster Bar.
It was a Tuesday night, balmy, and I was trying to get myself over to Greenwich Village with a quickness. The first cab to pick me up had a new driver and he actually asked me to input my destination into his GPS. Um, aren’t you in charge of this ride, sir? I threw an expletive his way and hailed another cab. Luckily, this driver knew his city and I arrived with time to spare. My Boston/Brooklyn friend Andrea was waiting for me, looking lovely as ever, and we went inside to wait for Cara. Of course, I would know what she looked like thanks to her prolific online presence, but she hadn’t seen my picture and, since there had been no talk of “wear a pink carnation”, I worried that we might share an awkward moment upon first greet. No way! We hugged and exchanged pleasantries and Cara bestowed me with the most amazing bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte brut rose champagne for all my help with the blog. So began an enjoyable evening filled with conversation, champagne, and beautiful food.
Our host for the night, John, found us some open spots at the bar. We chatted as we perused the menu and chose a nice bottle of bubbly. The Champalou Vouvray Brut NV caught our eye and it turned out to be the perfect accompaniment to our meal. With the bubbles and conversation flowing, I paused to take in some of the details around us: the old-style beach lanterns and vintage canned moose tucked behind the bar; the large chalkboard on the wall displaying the specials of the day; the cutest family of three, with an adorable little girl around the age of three, blissfully devouring the restaurant’s most famous offering, the Lobster Roll. Tiled walls, tall open windows, an inviting bar and a kitchen that is completely open for viewing, Pearl Oyster Bar feels at once homey and like you’ve managed to sneak past a velvet rope. Founded by Chef-Owner Rebecca Charles, an upstate New York gal with a familial past steeped in seaside gourmand tradition, Pearl celebrates its 15th anniversary this July and has become widely known as the place in Manhattan to get your most authentic taste of New England culinary fare.
|One of our *many* libations of the evening|
We began our meal with the Salt Crusted Shrimp appetizer served with a heavenly house-made tarter sauce. These over-sized, battered, and deep-fried beauties arrived with shells on and even the picky eater among us loved them, skins and all. Andrea went with the Market Oysters for her main course, and gave those tasty Blue Points a total thumbs up for being plump, briny yet not overly fishy, and just plain delicious. Per our lovely bartender Samantha’s recommendation, I had the special of the night: Breaded Skate with Brussel Sprouts. Dredged in a flavorful coating of flour and cracker meal, pan-seared, buttery goodness, the skate itself was ultra flaky and reminded me of dining on king crab. Feeling a bit more traditional, Cara opted for three of the most robust sea scallops I’ve ever seen. Both dishes were served with an exceptional mirepoix and pan-roasted brussel sprouts. Having sampled a bit from each plate, we all agreed that our meal had been consistently delightful across-the-board.
We passed on dessert in favor of another bottle of bubbly. Feeling perfectly sated, I took pause to reflect on what a great night this had been. In addition to being absolutely beautiful and having some of the most amazing hair on the planet, I found Cara to be even more good-natured and gregarious than she appears to be in her writing, and just as fun as you would think from watching her videos. I had enjoyed a wonderful meal at one of NYC’s most distinctive restaurants with two fabulous women, and I had finally gotten to meet the lady behind the blog. I was a happy girl.
For me, three things define a truly memorable evening: good company, amazing food and drink, and ambiance that wraps itself around you without being distracting. On this night, Pearl Oyster Bar gave us the perfect mix.
We definitely recommend visiting Pearl Oyster Bar in person. And for all of you home chefs and anyone who loves reading tales of family and food, check out Rebecca’s book, Lobster Rolls and Blueberry Pie: Three Generations of Recipes and Stories from Summers on the Coast of Maine.
Pearl Oyster Bar Website
Pearl Oyster Bar on Facebook