When you have a great experience with friends, you often try to duplicate it, only to see your attempt fall short or fail completely. Great expectations are optimistic, and often lead to disappointment. However, that was not the case last Thursday when the same group of us revisited the Poached Pear in Point Pleasant Beach.
Two years ago, my wife and I met with five friends for dinner at this inviting bistro on Arnold Avenue. Everyone enjoyed the food and the service so much they wanted to return. No one expected it would take two years. But, with work schedules, weddings, births, and other priorities, pulling people together can be challenging, especially when some live up north and others live locally. But on this night it was finally happening.
It was also two years ago when I wrote a post called the Seven Best Restaurants in Point Pleasant Beach, based on the reviews and opinions of others. After our first visit it was clear why the Poached Pear was the first addition to the list. I was hoping this next experience, would equal the last.
A Familiar Face
We entered the dining room through a different door this time and were seated in a space that was added on shortly after our last visit, but our table was positioned exactly the same. Our server was the same one we had last time. I never forgot her because she was that good. Ellen, pours your wine, describes the specials and answers questions like the true professional she is. Her friendly service, flows without a ripple. Any server can make or break your experience, but Ellen enhances it.
Good Choices and Perfect Presentations
Some of the dishes ordered as appetizers were the phenomenal crab cake, which was also ordered by my wife as a double for dinner. They are packed with lump blue claw crab meat, sitting tall and firm and cooked to a light brown perfection with just the right amount of seasoning. As an appetizer a single one is served with asparagus spears, portabella mushroom, roasted pepper and Meyer lemon aioli. The dinner duo is served with seasonal roasted vegetables and fingerling potatoes with the same aioli. The corn soup was also a big hit as a starter for one of us. I wanted to sample their famous asparagus fries, but no one ordered them. Had the weather been cooler (91° on arrival) I would have ordered the duck confit raviolis — a reason to return in the fall.
A popular entrée that night was the Parmesan and panko encrusted Halibut, a surprisingly large portion that became lunch the next day for at least one of our friends. I opted for the diver scallops which are served with a smoked paprika buerre blanc and pan seared to caramelized perfection outside and sweet, opaline tenderness on the inside. As with all of the dishes, the presentation was visually pleasing. We are so lucky to live near the docks, where fresh sea scallops are off loaded almost daily.
Our meat loving friend raved about the double cut, apple cider brined pork chop, served with spaetzle and red cabbage. While another hit was the French cut chicken breast on mashed potatoes. The tender bone-in chicken was enveloped by haricot verts, cipollini onions, wild baby fennel, wild mushrooms with a citrus sage demi-glace.
The Poached Pear is one of those places where the creativity lures you to desire everything on the menu. Then they toss in a few specials, like striped bass on this occasion, to render more uncertainty.
You May Not Skip Dessert
When dessert time arrived, a strange anomaly occurred. Ellen asked it we would like anything else but we were all full, and one at a time declined, despite having the decadent dessert menu under our noses. I think it was some form of wizardry, but once the magic words, “upside down key lime pie in a cocktail glass,” were spoken, one by one we all buckled under the spell. One friend said she had to try that, my wife ordered crème brûlée, another tiramisu, and so on until not a single bit of self-control was left. I can’t say which was the best, they were all so delicious.
In summation, we attempted a repeat and it turned out to be equal or possibly better to our first Poached Pear dinner together.
It was a Thursday evening and the dining room was full. It is not a place for an intimate dinner for two as the crowd can be clamorous, unless you come at an off time. Chef Giordano has a sizable local following so the restaurant even bustles during the off-season.
The Poached Pear is a BYOB located at 816 Arnold Ave. in Point Pleasant Beach. There is parking behind the building, on the street or in a large lot across the street. Reservations are highly recommended.