599 Church Street, Richmond (map)
I've long been a fan of Geoff Lindsay's cooking, both the food in the formal Pearl restaurant and the more informal bar menu, so I was thrilled six months ago to hear that Pearl Cafe was finally opening, just a few hundred metres up the road from Pearl (ie four minutes walk from my house).
I went along there one weekend morning, looking forward in particular to trying some of the coddled eggs, only to be snootily informed at 11:02am that they were no longer serving breakfast (it stopped at 11) and that if I wanted something to eat I'd have to order from the lunch menu. "Humph, well sod you and your coddled eggs", I grumbled to myself, and didn't return.
Fast forward to several months later and I decided to try it out a second time, going for lunch on Wednesday with K (in Melbourne on furlough from her Top Secret Hush Hush Defence job in Canberra). Upon arrival, I noted with interest that Pearl Cafe now does breakfasts on weekends until 12 noon. Quite right, too!
Somewhat brazenly considering the fact that I'm recovering from illness, I chose the most exotic sounding thing on the menu, the jungle curry of eggplant with "Siamese watercress" (better known to me as kangkung) and bamboo shoots, steamed rice and sour lime pickle ($16).
The dish itself looked great and tasted pretty awesome (I loved the round baby eggplants), but a huge chunk in the centre of the timbale of rice had fused rock-hard and was inedible, no matter how hard I hacked at it with my knife. Boo!
K had the smoked salmon salad ($16) with rocket, red onion, lemon, caper salad dressing and bagel chips. She reported back that she liked the capers but it was otherwise rather unexciting and the dressing was far too oily.
We pushed on and decided to get something sweet as K had her coffee. The olde time nostalgia factor made me choose a miniature slab of the coconut ice ($4), which was a little denser than I like to make it but still pretty tasty.
K's Turkish delight ($4), on the other hand, was awesome. And how great does it look in this picture?!
So there you have it. I'm afraid that I'm still not sold with Pearl Cafe (it appears I'm not alone in finding the attention to detail (ie dishes not cooked properly) somewhat lacking). I find the antiseptic decor a bit off-putting too. What do you reckon - worth one more shot, to try the coddled eggs? Or write it off?