Pearl Reopens as Trendy, Accesible Venue
PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE DUNN
The lounge that pioneered bottle service in South Beach is going egalitarian.
Pearl, the once-famous champagne lounge that introduced South Beach to the bottle-centered, super exclusive club model has reopened as a friendly, neighborhood restaurant and bar. Where Pearl was once known as the place where unattainable bottle waitresses made more than the attorneys and financiers they were serving, the new Pearl is much more accessible.
IN SOUTH BEACH, “NEIGHBORHOOD” STILL MEANS TRENDY
“We’re really trying to be a neighborhood place, and cater to the residents South of Fifth,” General manager Victor Sutter said as he stood in front of the famous sunken center bar with exaggerated high-back chairs, drenched in orange light.
“We have a melting pot culture down here and our menu is trying to reflect that.”
The new menu is the creation of Pearl’s executive chef, Sylvian Noel, fresh off a stint at the Wall House in Saint Barths. Noel has created a menu with tastes from all over the world, from Foie Gras Tamales in the Latin section to a Truffle infused risotto from Europe to Bombay Chicken from the Middle East. As Sutter said, the menu is aimed to showcase a taste of the diverse cultures that make up SoFi.
“We have a lot of foodies down here too,” Sutter said, “but we still want to put out solid food with no pretension.”
Which explains the spaghetti and meatballs on the menu, and excellent choice if you’re the type of diner who isn’t too interested in trying Pearl’s take on Moqueca.
INCLUSION OVER EXCLUSION
But what makes this new Pearl stand apart from the old is how it caters to locals. Through the end of February, a weekly “World Taste Menu” allows those who live nearby to try three different courses off the menu each week for $40. Meaning it’s a relatively-affordable way to try some of the more interesting new cuisine in South Beach, without dealing with restaurants that think it’s cool to make you wait.
The reason I liked Pearl is because it seems to be bucking the trend of exclusivity that has been invading the Beach since the original Pearl closed in 2005. Bottle service is the norm, restaurants don’t honor reservation times, and unreasonable lines await on almost any night out.
The new Pearl as a nightspot is more of a neighborhood, drop in lounge.
“We’re a place to come and have a champagne cocktail – or regular cocktail – before you go out. We’re a place to stop in and have a drink. And if you’re dressed appropriately, we’ll let you in.”
BRINGING THE COOLEST, MOST OPEN SUNDAY PARTY UPSTAIRS
Now, if you are dressed like you are going out, admission to Pearl is easy. And the party is just as good. The drinks, almost better. You can’t just walk upstairs from Nikki if you’re in board shorts and flip flops. But if you are at the outdoor party downstairs, Pearl is still open to you if you are dressed for something other than the beach.
So while Pearl may have been the first to bring the loathsome bottle service concept to the people of Miami Beach, it seems to be trying to make amends to the locals by offering up a very open venue. The class, décor, and beautiful people are still there. And the menu has gotten more creative and deserving of the prices they charge. Though now much more of a restaurant than a club, Pearl still offers a trendy-chic South Beach feel. Just this time, they’re actually letting the people who live here enjoy it too.
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"Pearl Reopens as Trendy, Accesible Venue"