Whenever I come home from break it’s always nice to spend a little time with the people I went to high school with. It’s also nice to sleep until noon everyday. So it was perfect that I was meeting my friend for lunch at 12:30.
Newport News and the Hampton Roads area only has so much to offer when it comes to dining. Unless Applebee’s and Chili’s are what you’re looking for, it’s hard to find an original good restaurant around my hometown.
If you’re not craving some “2 for $20” deals at Applebee’s then may I suggest Pearl. The owner and chef, Ihsan Korkmaz, is a native of Turkey and went on to attend Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Ottawa, Canada. How someone with his background ends up working beside the City Center shopping center in Newport News, VA is beyond me. But locals should be happy he ended up where he did.
His French bistro is complete with black and white checkered floors, canary yellow striped walls, separate dining rooms and an impressive wine list. Mind you I had rolled out of bed less than hour before walking through the doors. I thought it best to stay away from wine.
For lunch they always have a soup of the day (in this case, it was cream of asparagus) as well as a quiche of the day (ham and asparagus) and a special (blackened sea bass). The lunch menu is completely different from the dinner menu too. One of the biggest differences is prices. The most expensive entree for lunch (not counting the special) is the $13 salmon. For dinner it’s the $32 pecan encrusted rack of lamb. Just thought I’d give you a heads up.
My goat cheese salad with marinated baby artichoke, sliced olives, red cherry tomatoes, diced pancetta, crumbled goat cheese, chicken with a light balsamic vinaigrette was only $10. It also came with three fresh slices of french bread.
Another difference when it comes to the Pearl’s menus is of course, selections. The salad seen above is not offered for dinner. Neither is my friend’s Monte Cristo for $12.
The fried ham sandwich with Swiss cheese is served alongside with potato du jour. The potatoes looked like the inside of a twice baked potato. They tasted like it too. The sandwich’s bread was light (yes, even though it was deep fried) and sweet. Usually a Monte Cristo is topped with powdered sugar. It seems as though Korkmaz adds his sugar prior to deep frying. My friend loves Monte Cristo’s and upon taking her last bite she said it was the best one she has ever had.
When we were leaving Korkmaz was standing behind the bar talking to another customer. He quickly turned and said thank you to us several times. It’s always nice to see an owner (and a chef) after eating their delicious food.
And if you’re looking for a restaurant for a special dinner experience I’d still recommend Pearl. Yeah, yeah I know it’s the holidays and we’re in a recession, but how often do you get the chance to eat a prime filet of beef tenderloin with pureed potatoes, wild mushrooms, gorgonzola cheese and pepper corn sauce…in Newport News? Think of it as a gift for being nice this year. Merry Christmas to you.