Definitions of gastropub tend to vary, but most people agree that it’s a pub or tavern offering high-quality food and beverages. For the most part, The Pearl fits the bill.
Part of the Cameron Mitchell family, this new addition to Columbus’ trendy Short North neighborhood blends shabby chic and industrial decor with high-end comfort food emphasizing locally sourced ingredients. Quirky touches include dishtowel napkins and Mason jar water glasses, and the oyster bar serves hot and cold variations, along with other shellfish. A little tweaking in the kitchen could elevate menu items from good to fabulous. On our visit, beautifully composed spinach and beet salads ($8 and $9) were overdressed. The fish and chips ($16) were whimsically plated on a wooden disc and featured fries worthy of the county fair, but the delicate Great Lakes perch was buried under dense breading. And though the earthy flavors of the pork trio (pork chop, kielbasa and pork belly for $26) meshed perfectly with tart tomato jam, the over-salted chop was disappointing.
Specialty cocktails and an impressive line-up of craft beers ($6 to 15) anchor the sleek bar. An open-to-the-elements window nook in the lounge area allowed warm air to fill the small space on a humid night as the air-conditioner struggled to keep up. With a little more attention to detail, this Pearl could be a real gem.