Friday, October 26, 2007

An Expedition into the Pearl District


Normally, I steer clear of the Pearl District. Well clear. I abhor the place. I consider the Pearl a wasteland of empty nesters and yoga studios for purse-sized dogs, a manufactured neighborhood completely devoid of soul and flavor. Because that's exactly what it is. While the Pearl was indeed built, by pre-gentrification bohemians, on a handful of hardscrabble art galleries, cafes and the mother of all big-ass bookstores, what it has become can in no way be redeemed by them. My friend Kevin used to say of the Pearl, "it's not a happy place," and I know this to be true firsthand, as I've spent a good deal of time working down there. But every once in a while, a mountain exerts a call which cannot be denied, demanding one to answer its challenge no matter the personal sacrifice. And while the Pearl may be flat, such was the allure of its restaurants this evening...

And so, tonight's installment of "Eating with Mom week" begins with parking the car at the trailhead, in the North Park blocks. We sorted our gear and set out on the arduous hike to Ten-01, at the corner of Couch and Tenth, to sample the Happy Hour menu. Mom ordered the Mac & Cheese with Beef Short Ribs:


This was excellent. Probably the best Mac & Cheese I've ever had, althogh Mom contends that Bistro Montage's version just edges this one out. I disagree, but well, there you have it. Myself, I ordered the Sliders:


These were great, but I think Maiden in the Mist has it on Ten-01 in the Slider department, if only for their inclusion of caramelized onions (what donuts are to Homer Simpson, caramelized onions are to yours truly). Both restaurants, however, should be commended for their use of Cascade Natural Beef.

With dinner consumed, we broke camp and made the dodgy traverse to Bluehour for dessert. I had the black mission fig galette with fig raspberry sauce and honey muscat cream:


This was a home run. The tart was everything you would hope of a fig-based pastry, while the honey muscat cream reminded me of the sherry-tinged whipped cream Mom used to serve with fig pudding during the holidays when I was growing up. When a dessert in a restaurant reminds you of something from your childhood, it can't help but strike a chord. Mom ordered something similar to what she'd had a few nights prior at Clyde Common, Chocolate Souffle Cake with Coffee Ice Cream and Candied Hazelnuts:


She felt this was about on par with the Clyde's version, but I thought it was much better. Like the fig galette, it sailed with ease over the proverbial Green Monster. Both had a nice light texture, but the Clyde's was a little dry, and I felt the coffee ice cream was a more complimentary accompaniment than the huckelberry ice cream served alongside Clyde Common's version. I think Shuna Lydon came to the right conclusion when she was here in July: have dinner at the Clyde, but make your way to Bluehour for dessert. The pathetic attempt at decoration on the left side of the plate, by the way, is mine, not the pastry chef's...

From Bluehour, we post-holed our way back to the car, barely managing to skirt the threat of avalanche along the way. Anyone who's ever done any climbing will tell you, it can only be considered a successful climb once you've made a successful descent. And I won't have to make my way back to the Pearl for a long, long time...

7 comments:

Abby J said...

Wow, I can taste your bitterness from NoPo... I've never worked in the Pearl but at least this past summer, it made me happy. Maybe that's because I didn't have to work. Or because I'm from Livingston, NJ, so to me it's what NJ is but without the pretention. I know, I know, you think it's pretentious. But that just tells me you've never been to Livingston, NJ.
Mac and Cheese looks fab. Yum.

Abby J said...

Oh. And your blog is making me fat. Back to the fridge I go....

(Will be on the hunt for a snow globe and will try to bring back some good info from the cooking class we plan to take in Chiang Mai...)

Nina said...

OMG. I once had the best lamb in my life at bluehour.

tommy said...

A- Perhaps I was a little harsh on the Pearl District. Wait... nah! That cooking class in Chiang Mai sounds like fun.

N- I'm still looking forward to dinner at Bluehour somewhere down the road. We just did desserts this time around, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

You got it wrong- it was the mac and cheese at Zingerman's in Ann Arbor that just touched out Ten-01. Montage's was not as good this time as the last time. LGS

shuna fish lydon said...

Even still? I heard CC got a pastry chef after my write-up...?

tommy said...

Yeah, apparently so. I don't know who's doing the pastry cheffin' over there, but y'know, if things don't work out at Sens... ;)