February 27, 2009

Polishing Bellevue's Pearl

Chef%20Bradley%20Dickinson.JPG Plating%20up.JPG Mikel%20Rogers.JPG

In the beginning, there was Trader Vic's. For a couple of years, anyway (except on the internet, where nothing ever dies). When the Westin Bellevue opened, across from Bellevue Square, with its block-long driveway down 6th Avenue NE, the hotel's porte-cochère was on the right, and Trader Vic's on the left, but--awkwardly--you couldn't drop off your car with the hotel valet if you just wanted a Mai Tai and pupus. There's no street presence; Palomino has the corner location, all shimmering white tablecloths, opposite Bel Square's mid-market Red Robin.

Virginica%20Oyster%20at%20Pearl.JPGInto this foggy swamp came two fearless refugees from Schwartz Brothers: one of the chain's executive chefs, Bradley Dickinson, and its regional manager, Mikel Rogers. The two had crossed paths at various Schwartz properties (Daniel's Broiler, Chandler's Crab House, Spazzo's) and were looking for a space of their own. So Trader Vic became Bellevue's glitziest new restaurant, Pearl.

Shiny on the outside, with a giant fixture like a bug lamp, dark and glossy on the inside, with plenty of slate and chrome, polished stone and gauzy room dividers. (Like being on the inside of a pearl, you see.) A hundred seats in the bar, even more on the restaurant side, including a U-shaped chef's table for 10 overlooking the passe where Rogers or Dickinson (and sometimes both) inspect every plate before it's served.

Alaska%20king%20salmon.JPGTwo big hits, two misses. The "World's Best Oyster" was a single Totten Inlet virginica, chilled within an inch of its life by multiple layers of ice, accompanied a black pepper mignonette.And a wild mushroom risotto with porcini broth and truffle oil that was extremely satisfying. But a salad of heirloom beets was unsalted, its vinaigrette no match for the bitter watercress. An almost-perfect, moist and tender filet of Alaskan king salmon, served with rich, ivory-colored corona beans, included wilted but overly bitter greens.

Did actually anyone taste the beets? Did anyone check the flavor of the greens before sending out the salmon? Pearl ain't no diner, not at $39 for filet mignon. It's great that Pearl's two pros are making sure every plate looks terrific; they just need to tweak the flavors a bit.

Customers still have to know where to look, because Pearl's Bellevue Way signage is modest, to say the least, but at least they've solved the parking problem: the restaurant now validates the Westin's valet service. Bellevue should be happy: not only does Pearl offer decent food, a buzzing bar and a warm welcome, it has the thing Eastsiders seem to prize above all: free parking!

Pearl Bar & Dining, 700 Bellevue Way NE (at but not in the Westin Hotel), Bellevue, 425-455-0181. Pearl Bar & Dining on Urbanspoon

Posted by Ronald Holden at February 27, 2009 9:16 AM | TrackBack

Recent Entries

TIK logo.gif
The International Kitchen
Cooking school vacations in Italy, France & Spain.


The International Vineyard, a new way to learn about wine in France, Italy and Spain: three-night programs for wine lovers in less-traveled regions.

The International Kitchen, the leading source for culinary vacations in France and Italy.

French Word-A-Day, fascinating lessons about language and daily life in Provence

Belltown Messenger, chronicle of a Seattle neighborhood's denizens, derelicts, clubs, bars & eateries. Restaurant reviews by Cornichon.

Small Screen Network, where food & drink celebrities like Robert Hess have recorded terrific videos.

French Chef Sally is my friend Sally McArthur, who hosts luxurious, week-long cooking classes at the Chateau du Riveau in the Loire Valley.

Local Wine Events.com, the worlds leading Food and Wine tasting calendar. Spirits and Beer events as well. Post your own event or sign up to be notified when new events are po sted to your own area.

VinoLover, Seattle wine promoter David LeClaire's bulletin board of tastings, dinners and special events.

Wine Educator Dieter Schafer maintains a full schedule of Seattle-area tastings and seminars for amateur wine drinkers and professional alike.

Nat Decants, a free wine e-newsletter from Natalie MacLean, recently named the World's Best Drink Writer at the World Food Media Awards in Australia. Wine picks, articles and humor; no ads.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35
More blogs about food wine travel.
Who links to me?
Post a comment

Remember personal info?