A week after our wonderful meal at Mary’s Fish Camp, I decided that we needed to do some field research by visiting Pearl Oyster Bar to compare the restaurants. The story behind the restaurants is that Mary Redding, who was a partner at Pearl Oyster Bar, struck out on her own in 2000 to start Mary’s.
Whereas our dinner at Mary’s began perfectly – we were ushered to a table for two that was available upon our arrival – our dinner at Pearl started on a not so perfect note. We arrived a little before 8:00 on a summer Friday and were told that the wait would be 35 minutes. Almost an hour later, we were ushered to our table for two. And so went the rest of the meal.
Pearl is a much bigger restaurant and, as a result, it lacks the charm of Mary’s. Pearl may have come up with the idea of recreating the rustic milieu of coastal New England, but Mary’s rendition feels more authentic.
After ravishing our oyster crackers, we split an order of the smoked Atlantic salmon with crème fraiche over a johnnycake. This was a very good dish – I would have preferred more crème fraiche and less salmon, but that’s because I can handle smoked fish in small quantities only.
My husband got the lobster roll – I didn’t give him a choice…we needed to see who made a better lobster roll – and I got the pan-roasted scallops. You will have to keep reading to get the results of the lobster roll throwdown. As for the scallops, they were just ok. The preparation was very fresh and seasonal – with sugar snap peas and grape tomatoes and a few other things that I don’t recall – but the dish was rather bland and several of the scallops were overcooked. If you consider the price of the dish ($20), it wasn’t half bad, but it didn’t hold a candle to the fish tacos that I had at Mary’s (which cost $2 less).
For dessert (I can feel the lobster roll anticipation mounting), we split the blueberry crumble pie (since reviewed on Serious Eats). The topping was a bit sweet for my tastes, but the pie was a pretty good dessert for a fish joint.
As for the lobster roll, Mary’s was the winner, but it was a hard-fought victory. According to my husband, the lobster salad was more or less the same at both places. Pearl got a nod for the more generous serving size (for $3 less…a “mere” $27), but the bread (which he described as “buttery goodness”) at Mary’s pushed it over the edge in to the winner column. The fries were better at Pearl, but that’s beside the point.
I am glad that we tried Pearl once. I can’t wait to go back to Mary’s.