Oliver at The Winegetter gave my friend the sobriquet of “The Caller.” He tried to apologize to me, as he had not had any wines of note lately, as he has been enjoying the resurgence of craft liquors and cocktails, a subject all to themselves. It had been sometime since we had dinner with them, so we all met in the city of Ann Arbor, and we decided to dine at the Black Pearl.
The Black Pearl is located on Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor and the street is alive in the early evening with diners and revelers. It is one of the many establishments that now have dining on the sidewalk outside of the main restaurant, though because of the chance of rain, we chose a table on the inside, but along the bar, instead of in the dining room. I had heard plenty of rave reviews from an assortment of people, so it was high time to try the restaurant out. In social media I have a “friend” that is associated with the restaurant as well, but he was not there that evening, and another friend’s son is working there and I had the pleasure to meet him that evening.
The restaurant is known for their fish dinners and we were all touted to try the Fish Tacos from several of the employees at different times as we entered into the establishment. We started off by sharing two different appetizers; one was the Fish Tacos, which the restaurant furnished a fourth one, as the plate only called for three, and we also had Shrimp Guacamole with chips that were also house made. I have to say that the appetizers were a harbinger of good food for the rest of the evening. “The Caller” and his charming wife both ordered Coffee Encrusted Filets that came with Sweet Potato Risotto and Broccoli. While my Bride had Sesame Seed Seared Ahi Tuna with the proper sides and I had the St. Louis Spare Ribs. I found it rather amusing that we were in a fish restaurant and three of the four entrée plates that were ordered were not fish, but each plate was excellent, as we were sharing portions back and forth with each other. With our coffee after dinner we enjoyed a Hot Molten Chocolate Lava Cake, a Chocolate Malted Cheesecake and some Fresh Mint and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream. Suffice it to say that we were all members of the “Clean Plate Club” by the time dessert was ended.
We had started the evening off with some cocktails that each person wanted to try, but as for me, an old curmudgeon I stuck with my Vermouth Cocktail as I like how it prepares my taste buds for the upcoming meal. During the appetizer course we enjoyed a bottle of Jean Chartron Rully “Montmorin” 2012, a wonderful bottle of Chardonnay from the Cote Chalonnais which is between Cote de Beaune and the Maconnais. This is a Chardonnay wine that has that pleasant taste of a White Burgundy without the big price tag, which a White Burgundy can have. It was fresh and acidic and a totally different taste compared to the Chardonnay wines of the New World. While we were enjoying our appetizers, the second bottle of wine was uncorked and allowed to breathe for a while. Since we all enjoy a full bodied red wine, even my Bride with her fish, I was looking for a wine that would be enjoyable with the different dishes ordered. There were a couple of wines that would have fit the bill admirably, but since I am a lover of old films, one of the wines had the name Ugarte, and I immediately thought of the small, but important role that Peter Lorre played in Casablanca and I was hooked. I know that this sounds like a strange way to pick out a wine, but it is the same way I sometimes handicap a horse at the track. The wine was Dominio de Ugarte Rioja Reserva 2007, so I figured that it was a sure bet for dinner. This is a Tempranillo and Graciano wine from the Rioja Alava, and since it was a Reserva it had a year long stay in American Oak barrels before bottling, according to the rules of Rioja. It was excellent, but then I had introduced everyone at the table to Rioja wines many times before, so they were all for it, without any hesitation and it lived up to the expectations that we had for it.
Due to the busy schedules, we also made plans to have dinner again in November, which is how hectic times can be during certain parts of the year, so “The Caller” will return for sure then, if not sooner. As for the rain, it decided to wait until we had all gotten back to our cars for the drive home to finish a perfect evening.