Monday, October 10, 2011

Where to Eat: Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

I had the great fortune of being taken to Pearl Dive Oyster Palace for a date on its opening night. Not only did that circumstance offer up the lulz on a silver platter, it actually indulged me in some absolutely scrumptious food, too.

Pearl Dive is the latest restaurant to open its doors to the bustling and trendy 14th Street Northwest, among the likes of Estadio, ChurchKey, El Centro DF and Masa 14 (and three out of four of those I absolutely love). And with its we-just-unearthed-this-place-from-the-depths-of-the-Titanic ambiance, it's certainly a welcome edition to the corridor.

Seriously, check out this totally baller rusty-shipwreck-looking sign:


Of course, if you're planning on going to this place, you're going to want to try the oysters. They have a fairly wide selection of standard oysters as well as what they call their "boutique" options, and all come with a variety of savory and sweet sauces to try. If you're an oyster connoisseur, you'll be happy; if you don't know shit about oysters, like me, you'll find something to tantalize your palate anyway.

Beyond that, they serve hearty seafood dishes that seem straight from the Gulf Coast. I ordered the Crawfish Etouffee, and I did not regret that decision one bit.

But perhaps my favorite part of dining at Pearl Dive was not even the food, but the hilarity that ensued as a result of the fits and starts of opening a restaurant. As I mentioned, I went to Pearl Dive on its opening night -- Sept. 14 -- and the whole evening was somewhat of a shitshow for the restaurant's poor, beleaguered staff.

For starters, the manager was making a point of coming around to all the tables in the restaurant and thanking them for joining Pearl Dive on this evening. At our table, however, his script went a little off the rails:

"Thank you so much for dining with us tonight. If there's anything I can do to you, please let me know."

I watched his face screw up a bit as he heard himself let slip the verbal gaffe, but, with a moderately dazed look in his eye, he walked away without correcting himself.

"Did he just say, 'If there's anything he can do TO us?'" my date was quick to point out.

Laughter point one. My date and I spent the next five minutes joking about asking the manager for a threesome and all other manner of vulgarities.

A bit later, as our server brought us a basket of bread, he lapsed into the following monologue:

"Um... so, before you eat the rolls, I should warn you that they're really, really buttery, so you might want to try them before you put more butter on," he said apologetically.

As he walked away, my date again pounced:

"Translation: The chef fucked up! We're firing him later tonight! There's butter ALL OVER THESE THINGS!!!"

We had a good laugh about that, and went on to eat the rolls anyway. (In truth, they weren't THAT buttery.)

In any case, I'm sure that Pearl Dive has had a chance to work out all its kinks and is currently running a tight ship. And, after all, wouldn't that be apropos?

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