The Pearl – Columbus, OH

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Although I’m not a fan of oysters, or a whole lot of different seafood for that matter (white fish, shrimp and crab are about all I go for), The Pearl has been on my list of brunches to eat in Columbus since they opened in early 2013. Its branding and theme have been built around their fresh oyster room, which calls to seafood lovers from all over the city. But even though soft, squishy creatures encased in shells aren’t really my thing, Cameron Mitchell restaurants most definitely are. His family of restaurants are very well-known throughout Cbus, from the upscale M at Miranova, to the newly opened Guild House right across the street, so it was a safe bet that The Pearl was poised to deliver the freshest quality foods and service, as all of CM’s restaurants are known to be. It’s  situated right along High St. in the Short North, and it was buzzing on a frigid Valentine’s Day morning when the wife and I stopped in for brunch.

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It’s safe to say that The Pearl is a combination of several styles and dining atmospheres all in one space. First, the main seating area is divided between 3 separate dining rooms. It’s dimly lit by amber-tinted ceiling lights, and the decor provides a tavern-like ambiance, with a slight antique boutique feel thrown in for good measure.

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An example of this was the huge room divider that we were seated right next to, which was made up of shelves filled with all sorts of tchotshkes.

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The bar area features several high-top tables as well as bar seating. The Pearl serves an exclusive collection of ales, lagers and stouts as well as classically inspired cocktails.

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Then there’s the oyster bar – a unique feature of The Pearl that many patrons love. It is functional for lunch and dinner, as well as brunch, and there were several folks dining in this section when we arrived. There are several varieties of oysters and other shellfish to choose from, as well as colossal blue crab, peel & eat shrimp, clams and more. A glass case is situated right along the top of the bar which is filled with fresh oysters on ice, and a side cart next to the counter holds condiments such as spices, sauces, and horseradish to customize your meal to your tastes.

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The brunch menu is separated into sections: Snacks, Starters, From The Oyster Room, Entrees, Sides, and Fresh Pies. The Snacks section features small appetizers like fried cheese curds, lamb meatballs, and spiced pickles. Starters are a little heftier, with selections like jalapeno spoon bread, salads, and a delicious charcuterie board. Entrees features some amazing main dishes such as huevos rancheros, a scrumptious-looking short rib poutine, steak & eggs, a Pub burger, and a Cuban sandwich. In addition, sides and desserts are available individually.

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I’m not sure if it was a special touch specifically for V-Day, or if they have them all the time, but the small candles at each table added a nice little romantic feel. Additionally, Mrs. Grub Guy really loved the vintage silverware, the rustic, wooden tabletops, and all of the details that added charm, like the glass bottle chandeliers, which I missed getting a picture of.

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The wife and I started our meal with a homemade Cinnamon Roll ($4.00) to share. It was fresh and warm, and was covered in a creamy and smooth vanilla icing.

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We also shared an order of Deviled Eggs ($6.00), which won the award of the day for presentation. Arriving on a cutting board and a chicken-shaped egg scale, these were perhaps the tastiest deviled eggs I have ever eaten. They were nicely chilled, and the smooth filling had a bit of a bite.

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As far as entrees go, Mrs. Grub Guy decided on the Chicken & Waffles ($14.00). While the portion size of this dish was a little small for the price in my opinion, the two waffle quarters and medium-sized, boneless, southern fried chicken breast was fresh and flavorful, according to the wife. The waffle was crisp on the outside, and the Ohio honey-glazed chicken was tender, hot and juicy. It came with a warm blueberry compote that she topped both her chicken and waffles with.

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I ordered the Tavern Benny ($12.00) which, according to the menu, appeared to be a combination of two of my favorite breakfast/brunch dishes – eggs benedict and sausage gravy & biscuits. This dish was big and filling. It consisted of a fresh split, buttermilk biscuit, topped with house made sausage patties, two poached eggs, and homemade sausage gravy.

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Assembled in the same fashion as a traditional eggs benedict, this version replaces the English muffin with a hot and flaky biscuit. The house-made sausage was absolutely outstanding and packed with flavor. Each patty was approximately 3/4″ thick, and was topped with a perfectly poached egg. It was smothered in a generous serving of homemade sausage gravy that was rich and creamy. I enjoyed it very much and would definitely order it again on a return visit.

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After our meal, our bill was delivered tucked inside of an old book, inside of which notes, jokes, and witty sayings were written by past guests. This delivery method is a trend I’ve seen several times in the last few months, and I really like it. It’s creative, it’s different (from what most places do anyway), and it’s fun.

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We both really enjoyed our Valentine’s Day brunch at The Pearl. The atmosphere was casual and cool, and the staff was pleasant and friendly. The Pearl probably has one of the larger brunch menus I’ve seen in a while, but every dish seems like it fits.

If oysters or other seafood is what you crave, The Pearl is definitely the spot for your brunching needs. You can grab a few mollusks on the half shell, and enjoy some excellent land-based brunch food, too! But if you’re like me and prefer to pass on the seafood, there’s still plenty to fill your table…and your belly.

The Pearl is located at 641 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43215 (MAP). They’re open Monday – Thursday, 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM, Friday, 4:00 PM – 11:00 PM, Saturday, 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM, and Sunday, 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM. For more info, check out their website HERE, or the Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
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