Joe and I had just returned from our vacation the day The Black Pearl Seafood Bar had their grand opening. Questions like, “Have you been yet?” and “Isn’t it a block away from you?” came at me left and right over the weekend. Sometimes I need a break! But not for long. Late night hankerings for something new and delicious came about last Tuesday night. I really should have gone earlier…
For those unfamiliar with Cafe Amoré, you’re missing out big time. It’s one of my all time favourites in Edmonton, a place for some great pasta (ridiculously large portions, done really well!) and an atmosphere that matches no other. Brothers Nicola and Cristo Crudo have now opened up The Black Pearl Seafood Bar in the downtown core, right on 104 Street. Lucky me right?
The restaurant was quiet at 9pm that Tuesday night, something to be expected, but not for long, I’m sure. Entering the space feels like you’re actually on a ship. Dark and stormy, candlelit tables, and decorated with nautical knickknacks and fishing nets all the way from people’s homes in Halifax, Nova Scotia. That’s how authentic this place gets and for a moment, you’ll forget that you’re actually still in the middle of the prairies. Even the music runs a nautical theme.
The upstairs space is perfect for private events, seating enough for at least 12. I’m thinking, birthday party?
Cristo is always out and about at Cafe Amore and checking up on tables, family-and-friends style. So it was an honour to have met his brother, Nicola, the other half of the partnership and chef! Nic told us that their philosophy was simple: fresh seafood. A lot of people think that because we’re in the middle of the prairies, means that we cannot get fresh seafood and Black Pearl Seafood Bar is out to prove that theory wrong. Fresh seafood is flown in directly from fisheries and farmers, relationships that have grown over the span of the family business. Never frozen. For example, the night before our dinner, the menu had Albacore tuna. Today? A White Spring smoked salmon instead. West coast oysters because, well, their East coast partnerships were having difficulty getting in their mussels and oysters. The day after our dinner, they were expecting clams. This means an ever-changing menu as the Black Pearl Seafood Bar will utilize whatever the coasts can offer.
I was surprised that the menu had very little tiebacks to Cafe Amore. No pasta dishes in sight and the menu wasn’t exclusively Italian. Absolutely loved that The Black Pearl is its own distinct restaurant concept! Most dishes had a Mediterranean flare, and drew inspirations from all corners of the world, including the Caribbean and Asia. Nic’s in the process of finishing up a Korean recipe!
We started off with cocktails for the evening. The Elder Flower was perfect for me, I was in the mood for something on the sweet side – St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, prosecco, soda and rose essence. Joe had the Black Pearl Caesar, beautiful presentation with a crab leg instead of traditional pickled vegetables or, as most have seen it, a slice of bacon. Cocktails were amazing and I can’t wait to come back for more. Kudos to their bar program!
The Black Pearl Seafood Bar’s menu is designed as a “small plate” or tapas-style menu, and meant to be shared. We were told that any dish that had a sauce would include fresh bread, baked by Popular Bakery. Taking that into consideration, we ordered three dishes. Let’s just say that made us pretty full! Seafood dishes range from $19 to $40, or you can go with cold platters ($55 for one, $120 for two).
Even before our dishes were out, I could tell we were in for a good night. Our server brought us a bucket for shells, complete with hefty crab claw crackers, and take-home plastic crabmeat pickers. Wetnaps were lined and ready to go, a detail that goes a long way for diners. I love it when a restaurant has these things thought out! Based on our experiences at Cafe Amore, we already knew we were going to be taken care of.
The Red Argentinian shrimp and East coast scallop tacos were delicious! The wasabi cucumber cream had just the right amount of heat, an adjustment perhaps from previous feedback. Although I would recommend the dish to all diners, I would definitely say that in order to taste and appreciate the fresh seafood that they bring in, to order our other dishes! (Keep reading!)
The spicy snow crab tossed with in-house jerk cream sauce was by far my favourite dish of the night. I’m a little sad that the menu will be changing frequently, but I sure hope that jerk cream sauce will continue to be on the menu. It packed quite the punch and was soooo addicting. The sweetness of the crab was quite noticeable, a sign of freshness! Spreading some of the fresh herbed-lemon butter on the fresh bread to soak up the crab juices and sauce, this was all I really needed for the night. If you can’t take the heat, do not order!
Instead, order the King and Dungeness crab made with Crown Royal, chili, scallion, and ginger cream sauce. Most of the King crab was cut in a manner that made getting the crab meat easier than ever, an issue some might use as an excuse to avoid eating crab. I thought the snow crab was sweet, these were even sweeter. Loved it. Sometimes I forget how much I love seafood! I made the mistake of focusing on the spicy snow crab though that by the time I peeked over, Joe had taken most of this dish. Oh well, just another reason to go back. I need more crab!
I think price is on point when you’re considering that The Black Pearl is in the downtown core, as well as serving exclusively seafood. For the evening, the two cocktails and three courses (with complimentary bread) ran us roughly $50 per person. Expect to pay $30-40 per person for a full meal, without alcohol. Congratulations to The Black Pearl Seafood Bar on their opening! We will definitely be back, not only because of the outstanding dishes and close location, but because of the amazing service and hospitality. Our next visit will probably be at the bar, snacking on some oysters after work. Or perhaps it will be the lobster or wok-style squid. Or who knows, if that spicy snow crab is still on the menu… you get the idea. I have a feeling The Black Pearl Seafood Bar will be a frequent of mine. Have you visited? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!Black Pearl Seafood Bar
10132 104 St