★★★★★

At Pineapple and Pearls, chef and owner Aaron Silverman makes fine dining fun.

PINEAPPLE AND PEARLS

Silverman’s 2016 project presents a refined but playful menu comprising 11 courses paired with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Behind the buzz that surrounds Silverman’s newest venue, visitors will be thrilled to find a restaurant devoid of stuffiness and a team that tries its hardest to ensure a memorable experience.

Pineapple and Pearls boasts no singular theme; some dishes lean Japanese, others nod to Mexican and American coastal traditions. Drawing on accumulated experience working for the likes of David Chang of Momofuko Noodle Bar, Marco Canora of the now-closed Insieme, and Sean Brock of McCrady’s, Silverman’s pedigree shines through.

Silverman’s first endeavor, Rose’s Luxury, proved him a flexible and bold cook. But Pineapple and Pearls reveals a chef willing to push the boundaries and experiment with new techniques.

To my delight, absent from our meal were the usual suspects of fine dining: seared foie gras, heavy dollops of truffle oil, heaping spoonfuls of caviar; Silverman’s menu does not rely on gimmicks. He risks a lot with new takes on familiar dishes, but always delivers. The flavors are vibrant, and the visuals are striking.

We were greeted at the entry by our hostess, who offered us each a glass of a 2015 Gramona Cava La Cuvée Gran Reserva. It tastes earthier than champagne, but has clear pear and lemon notes. A sandwich and coffee shop by day, Pineapple and Pearls is well known for its fried chicken sandwiches.

The space is designed to make guests’ experience feel elevated but intimate. Seating 20 people, the room has a chic ’70s atmosphere, with charcoal black wooden tables contrasting sleek white walls and wooden tones with the occasional gold detail. Molecular-looking chandeliers highlight soft mountain tops etched into the walls.

A marble chef’s counter overlooks the kitchen: A quiet electricity is felt among the chefs, who number the diners one-to-one. Everything has been created specifically for restaurant-goers’ enjoyment.

Our first dish — a trio of smoke mushroom and huitlacoche a Mexican truffle, with mole and garlic crema, and salsa verde dips hidden inside three identical chips — set the tone for the meal: playfully elegant.

Highlights of the meal included the bass Veronique, a popular and delicious take on a filet of bass overlaid with millimeter-thin grape slices, and the beggars’ purse with egg yolk and truffle finished at the table with an egg-enriched Parmesan broth over spring vegetables, herbs and chilies.

Notable mentions include the squash blossom taco served over a still warm from the oven corn tortilla alongside white mole and fried herbs and the pecorino cake decorated with cheese crisps and served with three gelato options.

Each dish is crafted with artistry and precision. The course selection changes every night and I recommend waiting to inspect the menu until after dinner is over so as to not ruin the surprise.

The thought and care that go behind the beverage pairings are clear. A 2009 Aetneus Etna Rosso, boasting deep cherry and cellar aromas, pairs beautifully with the restaurant’s grilled Australian wagyu beef covered in an olive tapenade and smoked. For the uninitiated, the Hakutsuru Sayuri Nigori sake is a must-try, with its creamy texture giving way to sweet fruit and condensed milk aromas.

Pineapple and Pearls does not hold back in entertaining its guests. Although the price includes alcohol, tax and tip, at $280 per person, this is no casual meal.

Bookings for each week open a month in advance, and payments are made prior to dinner. After the restaurant earned two Michelin Guide stars last year, spots are even harder to come by. Those seated around us were celebrating anniversaries, promotions and birthdays. Guests part with a surprise goody bag, a note from the staff and a personalized menu as mementos of their meals.

The meal started at 5:30 p.m. and, as dinner came to a close around 8:30 p.m., my party and I felt euphoric about our dining experience. Pineapple and Pearls perfectly combines its whimsical culinary style with superb technique and attentive service. Visitors of the restaurant will leave craving another taste of the restaurant’s always-changing menu — if their wallets will allow.

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