[Ann Arbor] Black Pearl

[ A+ ] /[ A- ]

Black Pearl | www.blackpearlonmain.com
Address: 302 S. Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Date visited: 2013.03
Total bill: ~$90 + tax and tip (split between two people)

Verdict: I don’t care for anything on the menu except for the fish tacos
Will return: Maybe
What to get:
  – Fish Tacos
  – Raw Oysters
  – Martinis

I have been here a few times in the past and the food is a hit or miss depending on what you get. In terms of food cooked by the kitchen, I really like the fish tacos but I don’t like anything else. I recommend loading up on the fish tacos and raw oysters as a meal and supplementing with a few drinks.

Black Pearl Interior: elevated tables stretch all the way down to the back of the restaurant on the left side and bar seating on the right side.

Besides water or hot tea, I never order beverages (no soda, wine, etc, literally anything) with my meals anywhere because I don’t like to mix any unnecessary flavoring with my food. However, I will make an exception at Black Pearl. My favorite is the Nutty Alexander, which is a creamy hazelnut martini. People either love or hate creamy drinks so if you don’t like dairy in your drink, don’t get this. If you prefer something fruity, the lychee martini is tasty and very strong (three shots). The martinis are big.

Black Pearl Ann Arbor
Nutty Alexander Martini:Amaretto, Bailey’s, Frangelico, Kahlua, and cream.

The happy hour menu makes this a great place to pregame for dinner get some discounted appetizers and drinks in for dinner if you order before 6pm. A selection of food and drinks are discounted by a few dollars and some of the food from the regular menu is also available in single portions (for example, fish tacos are normally 3 for $18 but you can get a single taco for $4). The late night happy hour works the same way (check here for hours).

Black Pearl Ann Arbor

Oysters ($3 each today; daily selection and prices vary)

There were four types of oysters available today: two types of west coast (British Columbia) and two types of east coast (Chesapeake). We got all of them. I generally like west coast oysters better because of the sweeter finish but today’s east coast oysters were fantastic.

Black Pearl Ann Arbor

Black Pearl Ann Arbor

Lobster Bisque (Cup $7 or Bowl $10; bowl is shown below)

The lobster bisque was darker and saltier than the last time I had it; the recipe has probably changed but it was definitely better before. It used to be a vivid orange as opposed to the more brownish color below.

Black Pearl Ann Arbor
There are chunks of lobster in the bisque, which is always a plus.
Black Pearl Ann Arbor

Calamari ($11) with seasoned flour, cherry peppers, flat leaf parsley, and remoulade
This was really salty and greasy (as in they could have drained a bit more oil before plating it). The batter definitely needs improvement.

Black Pearl Ann Arbor

Tuna Tartare ($13) with yellow fin tuna with avacado, spicy mayo, sesame oil, and wonton crisps
This tuna tartare deeply offends me. Someone from Black Pearl should go try Pacific Rim‘s because they figured out what tuna tartare should taste like. I have ordered this before (and did not like it) but wanted to give it another chance. Nope, it still wasn’t good. It felt like half of it was raw tuna and the other half was canned tuna. The mayo really wrecked this dish. The wonton crisps do not go well with the tartare either; something lighter and not deep fried would have been a better choice. Feels like a P.F. Chang dish.

Food presentation really does not matter to me but at this point I am just hating on this dish in any way I can. Plating wise, I’m not sure what’s going on with the cucumbers and sriracha dots in the back.

Black Pearl Ann Arbor
Tuna Tartare with Wonton Crisps
Fish Tacos ($18 for 3) with cumin dusted breaded tilapia, spicy cabbage slaw, chipotle mayo, cilantro, lime, and pico de gallo
The best for last: these are the best thing at Black Pearl and the best fish tacos in town. I am not a fish taco expert but a good taco is a good taco. These tasted better today than any of my previous visits. The tilapia was nicely seasoned and was fully loaded with condiments that really complement the tilapia well. The spicy cabbage slaw and chipotle mayo added a kick to the taco. The tomatoes were a bit overwhelming and I’m not the a big fan of tomatoes in my food in general so I took some off. Otherwise, perfect combination. 

FYI if you get the entree version that comes with three tacos, you can pay to add an extra taco, which makes it easy to share with a friend (although I support eating all three by yourself).

Black Pearl Ann Arbor Fish Tacos
Fish Taco

Another dish worth mentioning is the Rock Shrimp Tempura (with spicy mayo and scallions). I was so looking forward to having this again but was told it was pulled off the menu due to vendor issues and general shortage of rock shrimp. My friend who works at Palio says they have the same problem. If this reappears on the menu again, I recommend getting this. For now, R.I.P. Black Pearl Rock Shrimp Tempura T_T.