Catching a breeze through white-linen curtains while downing an umbrella-decked cocktail is as close to an island escape as you’ll get on a grungy, hookah-fumed stretch of Alphabet City. For this paradisiacal 50-seat revamp of his old Gin Palace space, Ravi DeRossi (Death & Co, Cienfuegos) recruited longtime cohorts Jane Danger (the NoMad) and chef Andrew D’Ambrosi (Bergen Hill) to rehash the throw-back pours and Orient-skewing grub shaped by 1940s tiki culture. Without a single standard-issue tiki offering on the menu—no mai tais or pupu platters here—Mother of Pearl is a postmodern Polynesian affair pioneering new waters.
ORDER THIS: Beach-ready quaffs draw inspiration from their midcentury counterparts, but Danger freely riffs on those predecessors. The Shark Eye ($15) plays on a Demerara dry float, swapping the usual rum for curaçao and bourbon in a kitschy, Jaws-like cup, while the Tide Is High ($15) spices up the nuttiness of almond-based orgeat and cashew milk with smoky mescal and pineapple juice shaken to a frothy consistency.
GOOD FOR: Island flavors are given smart twists from D’Ambrosi. Kahlua-and-ginger-smothered slabs of pork belly ($26) come with oversize bibb lettuce leaves, ready to curl around coconut rice and kimchi pineapple. The uni kalani ($18) is a lofty take on a traditional Polynesian breakfast, with succulent urchin floating on a cloud of Spam-speckled French eggs.
THE CLINCHER: Like the menu, the cozy teal-and-white den is rife with time-warp nods to the Pacific isles, including retro floral-patterned banquettes, hand-carved totem pole stools and mother-of-pearl light fixtures. The effect is somewhat dreamlike—corroborated by a lo-fi pop soundtrack ranging from the Velvet Underground to St. Vincent. If you can brush off the occasional stares of passersby—the gleaming neon sign and effervescent lights garner many a sidewalk double take—you might find yourself lost in booze-soaked bliss.
|Venue name:||Mother of Pearl|
95 Ave A
|Cross street:||at E 6th St|
|Opening hours:||Daily 5pm-2am|
|Transport:||Subway: F to Lower East Side–Second Ave|
|Price:||Average cocktail: $18. AmEx, MC, V|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
3.7 / 5
- 5 star:2
- 4 star:3
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:1
While they may try to be a classy place, they take themselves too seriously. While I was there, a small family group came in for service. They might have been a touch loud, but they were well dressed and well behaved. They were refused service. So they used the facilities and while leaving, one of them knocked over some water. I heard later that the police were called by "Pearl" personnel and had one of them arrested at a different bar. So much for hospitality. IMHO, having patrons arrested, is not the best way of handling this situation. I tended bar all through dental school and never called the police once. Better have a lawyer on retainer before going to this establishment.
It's like the set of Golden Girls and Miami Vice combined to create the beauty that is Mother of Pearl. The entrance is draped with billowing white curtains and the seats are covered in floral fabric that would make your grandmother envious. The drinks are pricey, but tasty and served with unique presentations...a red punch served in a shark mouth, etc. Definitely worth a visit especially during the summer months!