The Pearl French restaurant is just that, a real pearl! It is secluded in the grounds of the spacious boutique Pearl Hotel, located at the end of a small gang just off Jln. Double Six, not far from Jln Legian.
Young French chef Jeremy outperforms his tender years in the kitchen of this surprisingly good restaurant. You can dine indoors in the air-conditioning or out on the new terrace, facing the landscaped gardens and swimming pool.
The cuisine is French, with just the slightest touch of Asian and other influences. The menu is like the restaurant, small and exclusive. Just 6 starters, 11 mains and 10 desserts! What a change from those restaurants that present multi-page menus offering many different cuisines none of which can be done with the attention to detail that they deserve.
Cold starters include a refreshing mixed salad, Meli Melo, of mushrooms, onion, soya bean and garlic eggplant tossed in greens. A Salad of Peppered Tuna has an Asian touch [coriander, lemongrass and lime], small medallions of just seared tuna are topped with a vegetable mix, surrounding a perfect salad of mixed greens tossed in olive oil and balsamico. The Fish Tartare consists of two different fish, tuna and mahi-mahi, thin medallions marinated in olive oil, shallots and lime.
Veloute de Giraumon is cooked pumpkin that is subsequently blended with curried coconut milk. Thick and icy cold, what a great simple dish for a hot Bali night! The classic Lobster Bisque is presented en croute, with a pie crust topping. The bisque is so rich, the flavour so strong and the colour darker than usual. Perhaps it is all that added cognac!
Throughout this small menu there are quite a few Vegetarian options that are out of the ordinary, vegetarian with taste! An example is the Ravioli Maison, fresh kitchen produced pasta stuffed with eggplant caviar and topped with a creamy basil sauce.
The mains have been carefully selected to cater for all tastes. There is Beef, tenderloin topped with a sauce of morel [that unique mushroom with a honeycomb-like shape] and served with zucchini gratin, or a Shank of Lamb with a most unusual presentation. Layers of meat are alternated with those of eggplant, mustard sauce in between, imitating a millefeuille, but without the pastry.
A Chicken Breast is stuffed with mushrooms and herbs, covered with a mushroom sauce and with mashed potato drizzled with truffle oil. The duck is a classic French Magret de Canard, also with mushrooms but this time roasted potatoes accompany the dish.
For me one of the great dishes that has always attracted me to French fine cuisine has been Crepinettes. At Pearl a farcie of chicken, pork [from the trotter] and mushroom is encased before baking in the oven, then served alongside a soft mash with a morel sauce. Haute cuisine! The seafood choices begin with a Seafood Risotto, with scallops and prawns on the side [the prawn has been finished in a cognac flambee]. The menu says a 20 minutes delay when ordering the risotto, an Italian friend of mine once told me it takes 18 minutes to cook a risotto and then 2 minutes to get it to the table! Such perfection! The Duo of Tuna and Shrimps are in a garlic parsley sauce with Tomates Confites a la provencale. The Fish of the Day is normally Barramundi, simply pan fried with a vegetable ratatouille of capsicum, cumin and leek, beside is an asparagus spring roll topped with a spicy fruit sauce. The king of the local ocean, Mahi-Mahi, is simply pan cooked and served with a ginger sauce, sitting on a bed of bok choy [Chinese cabbage], vegetables sit between layers of puff pastry, a true millefeuille.
There are two home made pastas dishes, both in the tagliatelle style, one of which is tossed with a mix of seafood, the other with a variety of vegetables.
Chef Jeremy is a very talented Dessert Chef and it is with this list he really comes into his own, in both creativity and taste. The Lollypops of marshmallow [chamallow] has amazing detail, the marshmallow cubes are brown as they have been painted with dark chocolate. What looks like marshmallows at first sight are really cubes of passion fruit ice cream dusted in coconut. There is a Strawberry Crème Brulee, and a 'Sushi Surprise', pudding rice rolled in chocolate and cross-sliced like a maki roll, topped with an orange and honey sauce.
Coulant Pain d'epices Romarin is a masterpiece, served hot; the soft muffin-shaped gingerbread is infused with rosemary and has a hot liquid centre. Also on the plate is a small pyramid of passion fruit ice cream and a glass of passion cream.
This chef loves chocolate! His Fondant is so rich, but light in texture not heavy as often found. Cut it and the liquid dark chocolate escapes. By contrast the Chocolate Mousse is light and fluffy dusted on top with crumbled meringue and served in a glass. What French restaurant can exist without its Chocolate Profiteroles, naturally also one of Pearl's simple highlights.
An Iced Nougat makes a change from the usual ice creams but they are also available here as well. The biggest problem you will have at Pearl is choosing which dessert to order, or you can take the coward's way out and order Jeremy's Tasting Plate and sample four of his delicacies at one sitting. I have even heard of people driving to Pearl for desserts after a home-cooked meal. What could be a better way to finish off any evening than with these tasty desserts, relaxing in the garden at Pearl?