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Emma Shepler


Written by
Emma Shepler

There are some situations in life that you never want to leave: your first road trip, a yoga class that ends with a ten-minute savasana, or an open-bar wedding with mini lobster rolls and a ban on any Pitbull songs. Simple pleasures that you don’t have to think about. We feel the same way about Pearl, a (nearly) all-day cafe where you’ll meet your friends for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and end up staying at for hours.

Emma Shepler

Located on a quiet street in the Richmond, Pearl looks like a cross between a Southern mansion and the apartment you wish you had, with high ceilings, a balcony, and plenty of natural light from the big windows. It’s somewhere you’ll feel at home as soon as you walk in and even if it’s your first time here, the friendly staff will still treat you like a regular - somehow knowing how you take your coffee and all about your secret fear of Pomeranians.

The food is also really comforting, especially what’s served on the daytime and brunch menus. They make wood-fired bagels during the week and on the weekends, the smoked salmon toast is what you should be eating, or the carrot soup and chicory caesar if you’re looking for lunch instead of brunch. At night, the food is more Mediterranean, but we’d pass on the heavier entrees and stick with the pastas and smaller plates, like the cauliflower with black tahini hummus and white bolognese. Also, make sure to save room for the sesame ice cream for dessert.

Luckily, Pearl isn’t slammed with lines out the door, especially on weekdays and even at brunch. So you’re free to linger over another coffee or cocktail and do your best to spend a little more time here than you expected.

Food Rundown

Smoked Salmon

This shows up on a bagel during the week, and on toast with farmer’s cheese over the weekend. They’re both delicious and reason enough to cross town to eat here.

Chicory Caesar

Brace yourself to eat a substantial amount of chicory. This salad is made by the croutons, crispy pancetta, and very appropriate amount of caesar dressing. Plan to share this, it’s a lot for one person to take down.

Halibut Crudo

Light and fresh and very much worth your time. The strawberry and basil give it a summery twist we like.

Eggs In Purgatory

One of the heartier brunch options, with baked eggs, lamb sausage, and tomato sauce in a skillet of polenta. Between the lamb and tomato, the dish has some good flavor, but the polenta is a little bland.

Cauliflower With Black Tahini Hummus

The roasted cauliflower is crispy and the black tahini hummus is rich, complex, and probably could be massaged into your skin as some sort of youth serum. It’s fantastic.

Wood Oven Baked Ricotta

This will be on all the tables at dinner and for good reason - it’s delicious and reminiscent of pimento cheese dip.

Handkerchief Pasta

White bolognese isn’t something we’ve encountered before, but we’re glad that Pearl introduced us to it. It’s rich without being super heavy, and one of our favorite dishes here.

Seared Albacore

The one miss of the menu. The albacore lacks flavor and the beans and arugula don’t add much.

Strawberry And Black Sesame Ice Cream Sundae

Strawberry and black sesame don’t sound like a natural combo, but it works. The crispy rice gives it a nice crunch and the miso caramel is perfect.

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