Pineapple & Pearls is the latest addition to the Barracks Row cluster of restaurants in Southeast Washington.
Chef owner Aaron Silverman opened the restaurant on April 7, 2016, just thirty months after opening his first restaurant in the area, Rose’s Luxury.
Rose’s was an instant hit and remains a dining destination for which folks lineup each day (or hire someone to do it for them) to score one or more of the 76 seats that are available in the restaurant for several seatings a night. On a really busy night the restaurant may serve 250 people.
(Reservations were taken at Rose’s for New Year’s Eve. The reservation line opened at 11:00 a.m. on December 5, 2017. By the time I checked in at 2:00 p.m., the only openings left were one reservation for 4-6 guests, one reservation for 7-8 guests and a reservation for 10-12 guests on the roof top.)
When Silverman began thinking about Pineapple and Pearls he envisioned a “small coffee shop in front and a reservations-only prix fixe tasting menu restaurant in the back.” “I envision a five-star, luxury hotel pampering,” Silverman says. [Bethesda Magazine, 12/1/2017]
Virginia and Tom and Debbie and I went to Pineapple & Pearls on a Tuesday night to celebrate Debbie’s birthday.
There is no sign on the front of the restaurant only the number 715. But it is easy to find because there is a large sign on Rose’s Luxury which is right next door.
There is a patio outside the front of the restaurant that has four round tables which I assume are used for the coffee bar when weather permits.
As you enter the restaurant you are in the coffee shop. There are a number of expected accoutrements. It is also where dinner guests are greeted. As you wait to be seated, champagne and a similar non-alcoholic beverage are offered.
There are two seatings a night, one at 5:30 p.m. and on at 8:30 p.m. We had an 8:30 p.m. reservation. Tom got there first and was enjoying a libation when Virginia, Debbie and I arrived shortly thereafter. We were seated around 8:20 p.m. Expect dinner to take 2.5 to 3 hours.
To the left of the greeters stand is a white curtain hanging over an entry way that leads to the balance of the restaurant.
As you pass through the entry into the rest of the restaurant you first come to a U-shaped bar with high chairs, seating up to 8 people.
As you move past the front bar, there is an unmarked door with a cloudy glass door on each side of the entry way into the balance of the restaurant. These glass doors are the gender neutral restrooms.
You are now in the main room of the restaurant. To the right are four 2 tops that can be configured to handle two, three, four or six people. In the middle of the room there are four 2 tops in various combinations. To the far left is a single large booth that seated 5 people the night we were there but looks to be able to accommodate six.
At the end of the room is the open kitchen with an eating bar across the front that seats 8 people who look into the working kitchen.
We were seated at the middle 4 top on the right side of the room. To our right was a party of two and to our left a party of 3. All in all, the restaurant can seat 36 people at each seating.
When I made the reservation through the concierge at the Four Seasons Hotel, I told him that this dinner was to celebrate Debbie’s birthday. On our table was a little sign wishing her a Happy Birthday.
There are various levels of people serving guests. The people that had us as a primary responsibility were Joe and Ricki, Joe being the senior server. During the evening at least seven other people served various dishes to us including our coffees at the end. All in, including the kitchen staff, the two folks who greeted guests and various levels of service people it appears that there are 18-20 people who in one way or another are taking care of the 36 people at each seating. The night we were there, there were a few empty seats.
When seated you do not find a menu that tells you what you will be eating that night. Eleven separate dishes are served each night. When we asked about changes to the menu over time, we were told that usually one new dish is added each week and one dish is removed. There is no way to know in advance what the eleven dishes will be. At least one of them changes every week.
When you make reservations you are provided an opportunity to relate special needs. I had failed to do that so I called and left a message on the restaurant answering machine noting certain dietary needs that I have. When we were seated the lead server at our table asked me about those needs relative to the menu for that evening. Those needs were met by substitutions from items that were served that evening. I had noted that I cannot eat raw or rare meat. When a piece of Wagyu beef was served, I was served separately with a more well-done piece of meat than the others.
There were seven alcohol based drinks served that night in which Debbie and Tom imbibed. Virginia and I were offered seven non-alcoholic beverages. One of the drinks we received included a juice that I need to avoid and I pointed that out to our server and soon thereafter I received a substitute.
As dessert was served, Debbie received a slightly different dessert with a lit candle.
The presentation of the entire dinner was just about perfect. While no course is more than a bite or two, we finished the evening pleasantly filled. From the time we sat down until we got up to leave, dinner took 2 hours 45 minutes. The dinner as a whole met and exceeded our expectations.
I noted that with the one drink that was served with straws, they were not paper.
As you leave the restaurant you are handed a bag with the following inside: a card listing the menu for the evening, a card listing the alcoholic beverages that were served, a card listing the non-alcoholic beverages that were served and two small jars containing herbed butter and jam as well as a thank you note from Chef Silverman.
At one point in the evening our server Joe, seeing that I was heading for the restroom, went ahead to check which of the two restrooms was open.
The restroom I used was as clean as can be. On one wall is a standard white commode of reasonable height. On another wall is a rectangular wash basin made of marble-like material and a tall gold faucet topped by a full mirror. There is a pile of wrapped towels next to the washbasin. On a third wall next to the door, there is a rectangular wooden table topped with a couple of glass cylinders, circular white cups and a lighted candle. Under the table there is a white cabinet with a wooden top and a sunken container for depositing used towels etc.
For an unusual touch, there is a photo of the inside of one of the restrooms included in the various photos on the restaurant’s website.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Friday night and an occasional Saturday. Saturday dates are listed on the website.
Reservations are only taken on the restaurant website. However, the phones at the restaurant are theoretically answered between 12:00 noon and 2:00 p.m. on the days that the restaurant is open.
While the restaurant does not publish a menu on its website it does have something I had not seen before, a list of questions that might come up as you think about the restaurant and the answers. For example, “Do you take walk-ins?” The answer: “We generally do not take walk-ins. When last minute seats open up day-of reservations we will post the opening on our Instagram account @lastminutedinnerplans.”
A meal with alcohol costs $280 per person. Without alcohol the cost is $255.
The charge includes gratuities and taxes. I asked our server whether additional gratuities are permitted. He first made it very clear that the gratuity is covered but then noted that some guests do leave additional gratuities. We did that.
One half of the total amount for the evening, in our case four people, is charged to your credit card the day you make the reservation. The balance is charged to your card on the morning of your reservation.
Pineapple & Pearls
715 8th St SE
Washington, DC 20003