Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Plenty of Fish in the Sea

Last week, in order to kill some time before a baseball game, and really, just because we could, L & I went to Pearlz Oyster Bar for happy hour and dinner.  I had been craving fish tacos for days, and L is always up for some seafood, so Pearlz seemed like the obvious choice.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in, was the bar.  The main seating area of Pearlz is fabulous.  It has a long regular bar, and then a handful of long high-top tables in the center of the room, and then a row of booths against the wall.  We opted to sit on the patio because it was absolutely beautiful outside and we wanted the sunlight and fresh air.  The patio is enclosed, but the windows are almost floor-to-ceiling, so it still almost felt like we were outside.   Really loved the atmosphere here.

I wasn't kidding about the amount of crab meat.
On to the menu. We opted to start with the crab bruschetta and half a dozen steamed oysters.  They actually ended up giving us a dozen oysters for the price of six, which suited us just fine.  The crab bruschetta was fabulous.  It was exactly what you would expect from bruschetta - toasted bread, garlic, tomatoes - but also had so much crab meat, it was almost impossible to get a bite of everything at once.  It was probably the best thing that we ordered that night. 

The oysters were really nothing special, which was a little disappointing since Pearlz is an oyster bar.  They were good and they were satisfying, but they weren't any better than any other place in town.  Some of ours were also not steamed quite long enough so they were difficult to open.  They were certainly light and refreshing, and close to what we wanted, but they just didn't stand out.

Our one dozen oysters - with cocktail sauce and butter on the side.

On the plus side, some of the oysters were huge.   They were pretty satisfying, so it really wasn't that big of a deal to us if we couldn't get some of them opened.

See what I mean?  Huge oyster.  With cocktail sauce and a little bit of Tabasco.  Delicious.
See what I mean about wanting a little more fish?
Both L and I ended up ordering a fish taco for our actual meal.  Like I said, I had been craving one for a couple of days.  I ended up ordering the grilled mahi taco.  It was exactly what I wanted, but still nothing spectacular.  I wouldn't have minded a little more fish and a little less of the cabbage and pico de gallo, but it was still tasty. 

L ordered the blackened tuna taco.  She liked the tuna, but she thought that the cabbage and the pineapple salsa didn't mesh too well together.  She would have been happier to have one or the other.  If I remember correctly, she ended up just taking the tuna out of the tortilla and eating it by itself.     Whatever you have to do, right?

Tuna taco.  Looked pretty good from the outside.
So our food wasn't really anything special (except for the crab bruschetta...that was fantastic).  Good service can sometimes counterbalance mediocre food, right?  Unfortunately, we didn't even get that.  Our service was just bad.  Our server almost seemed to forget we were there.  It's a small place, so even if it was busy, and it was Friday happy hour and the whole place was full, she still didn't have a ton of tables.  The other servers in our area seemed to balance out their tables well.  But I don't know if ours was just having a bad day, or if she thought we smelled funny, or what.  It took forever to catch her attention, even if she was at the table next to us.  She only came over to check on us a couple of times, and once was to get us refills on our beers.  Service shouldn't be like that.  It's a shame, because the atmosphere of Pearlz was great and the food was good enough that I would go back, but the service has me rethinking plans to ever go back there.

 Final Rating
You can find Pearlz on Facebook or on the web.   Pearlz also has locations in Charleston, S.C. and West Ashley, S.C.  This review is based on the Pearlz Oyster Bar in Columbia, S.C.
Pearlz Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon


  1. Hi! Where would you choose to eat oysters in Columbia, I'm looking for a good seafood restaurant. And I'm also wondering if you remember who your server was or what she looked like? (I think I had the same server you did--the others seemed fabulous!)

  2. To be honest, I haven't really gone out for oysters much in town. I've heard WONDERFUL things about the Oyster Bar in the Vista, and definitely plan on trying them out once oysters are back in season in the fall.