I had a great brunch at Pearl Dive with my girlfriends Katie and Kathy on 8-12-2017. The food was good but let’s be honest: meeting Jeff Black was one of the highlights of this entire Mission!!
If you’ve ever walked by Pearl Dive you’ve likely seen people hanging out in their awesome outdoor bar/patio. At happy hour this space is PACKED.
This is the view of the dining room from the entrance. The interior has sort of a rustic/beachy vibe.
One thing that was really nice is that the brunch crowd here wasn’t too raucous. Sometimes brunch in DC can feel like you’re in the middle of a bachelorette party but this was much more subdued in a good way.
Once we were seated I asked the waitress which Chef, Chef de Cuisine, or Sous Chef was working at the time to have my Guide signed. She informed me that none other than Jeff Black was there and would be over shortly. I DIED. Like I’m not sure I’ve ever had a more embarrassing fan girl moment in my life. Luckily by the time he got there I’d calmed down but the waitress must think I’m the biggest weirdo.
Here he is!!! I’m not joking, I might frame this. Jeff and Barbara Black own Black Restaurant Group, which includes Pearl Dive, Blacksalt (also in the guide), Black Market Bistro, Republic, Black Jack, Black’s Bar and Kitchen, and the newly re-opened Addie’s. I think I freaked out so much because it’s rare to meet the owner of the restaurant group but also because I just really, really like his restaurants.
And speaking of the food…
Selection of oysters. We opted to get two each of six kinds of oysters, which was really fun.
Barren Island, MD – light in taste and texture
Warshore, VA – a little tangier
Hood Canal, WA – brinier with a fuller mouthfeel (not sure this is a term used with oysters but whatever)
Sunset, PEI – very briny
Blue Point, CT – same level of brininess as the Sunset
Old Black Salt, VA – super briny!
Addie’s Mussels (garlic, shallot, butter, lemon, chili flake, grilled baguette). God were these good. I could literally eat bread dipped in that broth all day long. There is a bit of a tomato flavor along with garlic and butter that was amazing. The mussels themselves were great as well.
Addie’s rolls. These rolls are in addition to the fact that there’s an Addie’s Restaurant and all the restaurants in the Black Group serve Addie’s mussels. When we asked the waitress about all this Addie-ness she told us that Addie was Jeff’s grandmother! Well needless to say the rolls were fantastic. They’re lighter than a biscuit but still have some of the flakiness and crispiness of one. We dipped them in the mussel broth and the beignet sauces (see below).
Chopped Salad (buttermilk-jalapeno dressing, market vegetables, avocado, popcorn crawfish). Overall this tasted kind of like lettuce with ranch although both the dressing and crawfish were pretty spicy (in a good way).
Pontchartrain (two poached farm eggs, English muffin, blue crab, tasso ham, crawfish, cayenne hollandaise). I literally took one bite and said, “that’s f*&%ing good.” It was like a crabcake with no breading topped with the best hollendaise ever.
Ricotta beignets (raspberry coulis, peanut butter & vanilla sauce, brown sugar cheesecake dip). These were delicious. The raspberry was great while the peanut butter & vanilla was almost like a peanut butter caramel. The cheesecake dip tasted like wonderful cream cheese frosting.
Overall this was a really great brunch. I wasn’t sure what the brunch vibe would be like given how packed it is at happy hour but I was really happy with how it turned out. The food was delicious and meeting Jeff Black was clearly a bucket list moment for me!