641 N. High St.
Columbus, OH 43215
The Short North is a veritable playground for Columbus restaurateur Cameron Mitchell, and he has multiple concepts up and down the street. But his name is iconic here in Columbus, and so is this increasingly cosmopolitan neighborhood of upscale shopping, bars and restaurants. The Pearl is his “polished culinary jewel” of a mid-scale seafood restaurant and oyster bar; while it benefits from many different kinds of people coming into the neighborhood, this has got to be best thought of as a casual place to enjoy some creative and unique seafood concepts without the over-the-top to match the higher-end steakhouses down the street.
The menu has a wide range of fish and seafood options:
- Oysters: These come by the shell, and there’s always a few varieties on hand dictated by the market. Freshness is the word, and in this instance you won’t be disappointed. Some are gargantuan meaty morsels the size of your thumb, while others are smaller, saltier and decidedly more bold.
- Great Lakes Fish & Chips: Excellent for an easygoing meal, four breaded cod cuts with vinegary fries and a cole slaw. The real magic comes from this ridiculous tartar sauce that adds another layer of taste.
- Shrimp & Grits: These grilled shrimp are seared with a short rib kielbasa, poblano peppers for a lot of added heat, and gouda cheese grits made the whole thing jut stick together really nicely. Don’t pass up a chance to split it, too, because it makes for a filling dish.
- Teriyaki Octopus: Chopped and grilled tentacles served in a sesame and pineapple-based puree that combines a bit of Asian and a little tropical influence. Mustard and heart of palm adds some dimension too, giving this dish some pull around the palette.
The restaurant needs reservations – all the time. Because just about every night of the week, this place is full and there’s nothing you can do about it. But that speaks to the staying power this restaurant has, even after Mitchell has opened several other restaurants, including several other seafood alternatives, in the district. The price points are high but the restaurant is worth it.
The Short North has many good restaurants – and so many duds. So when you go to a place, you really want to make sure it’s worth the trip. The Pearl is, in the same sense, a diamond in the rough, consistently good food and always on top of things despite the demand and volume here. Make a point of it.
- The apps are great to share. Really, make sure all of the food is good when shared by a couple.
- Reservations are a must. Even during the weeknights.
- There’s a nice selection of beers, but I like the cocktails here too.