It’s not often that a restaurant/meal warrants a blog post of its own here (this is a running blog after all), but I thought our visit a few weeks ago to Pineapple and Pearls AKA P&P achieved that threshold. P&P opened earlier this year to great excitement thanks to its acclaimed chef/owner Aaron Silverman (2016 James Beard winner and chef/owner of the very popular Rose’s Luxury), strong emphasis on hospitality, and innovative cooking. There is no menu, the dishes change weekly/monthly, and you have to make a reservation in advance on their website. As part of their focus on hospitality, there’s also no check at the end of the night! You pay beforehand (flat cost, no tipping) when you make your reservation. Our waiter quipped, “It’s like uber for restaurants – when you’re done, you just leave!”
We decided to go as an early celebration for our 5th anniversary, and showed up Friday night at 5 PM with great anticipation. I’d read some of the reviews from magazines and food critics, but since the dishes change so frequently, we knew the evening would be a surprise. The next two hours included 13 courses with beverage pairings (we got 5-6 different drinks through the course of the meal).
The dining room is small and intimate, with about 30 seats and eclectic, modern Japanese-inspired decor. Loved the view of the open kitchen!
The dishes started coming shortly after we were seated, and each one was AMAZING and surprising. Each dish was either a play or twist on an existing version, or meant to highlight an ingredient in a new way.
You might be wondering, but what if I don’t like some of the ingredients/foods they use? When you make the reservation, there’s an opportunity to add notes about foods you strongly dislike or can’t eat. For me, I put down cilantro, and Mike noted squid/octopus. I was really impressed that they served us slightly different variations of dishes keeping those dislikes in mind. For example, the dish below came with a cilantro oil in Mike’s dish, but a basil oil in mine.
I’m glad I kept an open mind though – I totally forgot to note eggplant as one of my dislikes, so I was nervous when the waiter announced the dish below. Turned out to be one of my favorite dishes of the night! The eggplant had been pickled and diced to remove the rubbery/chewy texture and was so flavorful. I told the waiter how surprised I was to enjoy it, and he confessed that he was an eggplant hater too, but also loved this dish ;)
Sweetbread – another strong dislike of mine, but I didn’t know till afterwards the chicken wings below had been stuffed with them! They lended so much juiciness and flavor to the chicken, and the watermelon hot sauce was TO.DIE.FOR. This was probably my favorite dish of the night.
We were so full by the time the dessert courses started – we couldn’t eat more than a small bite of each, and I wish we could have taken a two hour break or so to enjoy these better! So much creativity went into each dish.
A little surprise at the end, with rainbow cake and pistachio ice cream!
The only thing I could have wished for was more cocktails during the meal – we got several interesting wines and beer (probably some very expensive ones too), but I’m a cocktail/ bourbon girl all the way. They did serve one cocktail about 2/3 of the way through – the pea shoot concoction below – and it blew my mind! The muddled peas added such a fresh, sweet and unusual flavor.
At the end of the meal, the chef gave us a lovely surprise – doggie bags with pistachio shortbread and coffee for the next morning, along with a note from the chef and a printout of the menu from the night. Such a nice way to carry the magic into the next day!
I can honestly say that night was the most fun I’ve had at a high class restaurant. The dinner felt far from stuffy – we were relaxing on the pillows placed throughout the dining room and enjoying chatting to the staff. You can tell that they genuinely enjoy working there – the restaurant is one of the few that is only open on weekdays to allow their staff to take the weekend off, and everyone is paid a salary (instead of relying on customers’ tips). The server told me that no one has left from the day they opened, which is rare in the high-turnover restaurant industry. Such an awesome place to celebrate our 5th anniversary – thanks P&P!