Pearl, a True Dining Treasure in Bellevue

© Siiri Sampson 2011.
Dear Cows, Kobe Beef is the new black. Convert. Thanks, Siiri
If the saying "diet starts Monday" applied to everyday life, then this week's diet consists of Kobe-beef burgers and pan-seared chicken breasts with loads of rich mushrooms and sauce. That's one awesome diet. Forget about all that annoying New-Year's-resolution junk and get with the program--eat the best food you can find in 2011, and don't look back.

Even for the goody-two-shoes in you, Pearl in Bellevue (Lincoln Square, 700 Bellevue Way N.E., Suite 50) has a few great salads to balance the richer dishes that tempt your taste buds. It seems you really can have it all (for at least lunch or dinner), and you can start with an order of truffle fries and a salad of baby greens with Champagne vinaigrette ($8). My only criticism of Pearl's menu would be the overly greasy burger bun that comes with their delicious Snake River Farms Kobe Burger ($12). Was it burger grease or bun butter? We're not sure, but we let the waitress know, and she graciously apologized and notified the kitchen. Now that that's out of the way, let's get down to the goods.

© Siiri Sampson 2011.
Salads good enough to add to the cravings list? Few and far between for most, typical for Pearl.
Bravo to Pearl for putting together a smashing lunch menu that offers a handful of starters and "Always Available" classics, but which centers on 10 hearty dishes for $10 each. It's about time someone in Bellevue--we're talking within the downtown core--served quality food in sizable portions for less than $15. You can't go wrong with any of the main dishes, but a couple of clear favorites seem to be the pan-seared chicken breast with wild mushrooms, natural jus, and house-cut fries ($10) and the chopped salad with grilled chicken, salumi sopressata, artisan cheddar, corona beans, scallions, basil, tomatoes, and bleu cheese vinaigrette ($10). At a table of six, three had the chicken with subs and variations (all delivered to the T), and two had the salad.

Our server, Amanda (not to be confused with the woman we now refer to as "Un-Amanda" over at Chantanee), was warm, welcoming, and chatty from the moment we sat down. The place was at least half full--pretty good for a Monday afternoon--and everything about Pearl's atmosphere was inviting and comfortable. I haven't had service that good in quite some time, and I'll definitely ask for her again (though I'm sure all their servers are equally talented, why let a good thing go?).

Although a little hard to find whether you park at Bell Square, Lincoln Square, or on the street, this little treasure is a great back-pocket go-to for lunch, dinner, or late-night drinks. Don't let the quiet fool you: The kitchen knows what they're doing, the bartenders are sharp and serve a mean drink (and have great recommendations if you're looking to try something new), and the service can't be beat. If you insist on making a New Year's resolution, it should be to go here at least once a season and indulge in some of the best food on the Eastside.

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