Time Out Melbourne

Pearl is being shucked out of its Richmond shell and is headed for the CBD

It’s the end of Pearl as you know it. Over 12 years, the Asian flavoured mod-Aus restaurant has held its own in a fine dining scene as temperamental as an emo teenager. Even when founding chef Geoff Lindsay buggered off to Elwood with his new venture Dandelion. Most likely because when Chris Lucas took over, putting David Ricardo in the kitchen, the changes were subtle –the red duck curry that has been on the menu (in some guise) for a decade is still kicking. But 12 years is a long time. Long enough for a new guard of restaurateurs to steer the city onto high stools and into shared plates.

Lucas himself is one of he culprits who lead the charge. His other venture is hot-as-hell Thai den Chin Chin – you may have heard of its queues – and the fact that everyone has proved that what we really want to do is take that good food and eat it with our fists while wearing jeans, has spurred Lucas’ decision to shuffle the cards in his deck.

And so, on May 13, Pearl as you know it will close, and on the site a “younger, more vibrant and completely different concept to what was there before” will be built, according to Jess Ho, Chin Chin door sentinel and now front-woman for the Lucas empire. “We want to redefine what we think of fine dining” says Ho, “and the new offering is just something that the area doesn't have at the moment.” What that entails exactly is yet to be revealed – we assume it won’t be Mexican.

But it’s not all over for Pearl. Lucas is looking for a city site, and in 12-18 months it will rise again as a new, improved version of itself. According to Ho, “the CBD seems like a better location for the Pearl brand and we are also looking to revitalise what Pearl is as we work on the site.”

In the interlude, underground dinners will be held to remind everyone what Pearl is, and slowly reveal what the new version will be. And fear not bleeding hearts - staff are being offered a transfer to Chin Chin, while chef David Ricardo is taking over as Executive chef for the restaurant group.

So if you just can’t face life without having ‘done’ Pearl, you better hot foot it in over the next week.

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