Pearl is best known for lunch, but don’t miss its specialty dinners

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Rarely open for dinner, Pearl offered a unique Midsummer’s Night Picnic made up with some of the best bites from the regular menu.

With several prior lunch and dinner restaurants under the belts, owners Annette Yang and Brian Letiner have experience in offering an evening event. The partnership with HenHouse Brewing led to a near-perfect pairing.

Inspired by Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, Chef Letiner’s breadth of cooking knowledge and skill at the grill reaches well beyond simple lamb kababs and lentil stew. The regular menu is filled with exotic dishes that transform basic seasonal flavors into incredibly complex and delicious dishes.

With the sun setting, yet still warming the outdoor seating, diners shared tables both inside and out while enjoying the diverse appetizer menu along with live music playing just across the street against the backdrop of an old corrugated metal warehouse.

Each guest received 15 tickets to trade for food and drink, the latter of which consisted of wine or HenHouse beer. We started with a quick tour of HenHouse’s offerings, which the expert and energetic staff explained while also suggesting pairings. They had Saison, Kubrick’s Landing Hazy IPA and Oyster Stout on hand.

After getting a glass of Saison and Kubrick’s we moved to the indoor wood oven station, which offered both trout BLT with zhoug marinade and smashed tomatoes and Syrian lamb flatbread with pomegranate molasses and pine nuts. For those of us that are unfamiliar with terms like “zhoug,” there are definitions on the wall that are constantly updated with new menu items. Zhoug did not happened to be on the list though, so a quick internet search disclosed that it is a kind of Middle Easter pesto, made with cilantro. However, even without recognizing a menu item, we have come to trust that everything we order at Pearl will be distinctive and delightful. The fruitiness of HenHouse’s Kubrick’s hazy IPA was a good choice to pair with this station because it complemented without overpowering the delicate spices that flavored the lamb and trout.

Our next stop was the cold station, which was conveniently located just outside and within easy reach of the outdoor seating. Here we picked up bowls of heirloom gazpacho topped with cucumber relish and whole grain salad infused with stone fruit, cumin and honey, which was a bit like a pasta salad, only made with grains. Here, the HenHouse Saison, with its spicy and fruity flavors went well with acids of the tomato gazpacho and hearty texture of the whole grain salad.

While listening to some music we finished out our first two pairings and then moved on to the outdoor grill, where the chef was grilling up fat oysters with harissa (cumin, coriander, caraway and chilies) and beet gribiche (a mayonnaise-style sauce), corn on the cob with dukkah spices (hazelnut, paprika, pumpkin seeds and cumin) and a dish of grilled Monterey squid and Rancho Gordo shell beans topped with sumac salsa verde. We queued up for these three whenever we saw the line get down to just a few folks because everything coming off the grill was exquisite.

We returned to each station multiple times, even for the gazpacho and whole grain salad, neither of which would normally catch my eye or palate. Even after partaking in a couple bowls of dessert, which was a baked granola and fruit topped with lavender whipped cream, we had half a dozen tickets to gift to those who took our table as we left.

At $55 a person we felt more than satisfied and are already eager for the next special event. Keep an eye on pearl’s social media for updates about future dinners, as they are not to be missed.

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