Pearl's Place Café is located at 150 S. Montezuma Street in Prescott. For more information, call 928-541-0006 or visit www.pearlsplacecafe.com.
© Paul Markow
Click image to view larger in separate window.
Don't Let the Name Fool YouIf you're a fan of Larry & Hy's Bare Bones BBQ in Prescott, it's gone. The name, not the joint. The restaurant is still there, serving the same array of comfort food, but it has a new moniker, Pearl's Place Café, which is a tribute to chef/owner Mike Paper's beloved mother.
By Roger Naylor
PRESCOTT Pearl's Place Café is where picky eaters go to shed their persnickety ways. A wide-ranging menu means that everyone who consumes food can find a favorite. So, unless you're scheduled to prowl the catwalk in Milan, try this little eatery nestled in the heart of Prescott's Whiskey Row.
A diverse menu sometimes signals a lack of identity, but at Pearl's, it just means the guy in the kitchen is a bit of a mad scientist with a spatula. Mike Paper opened the doors in March 2005 to the café that looks like a stylish Memphis blues club. Named for Paper's mother, the joint quickly gained a reputation for innovative spins on comfort food, or "uptown down-home cooking," as Paper calls it.
Everything is made from scratch at Pearl's Place. If the roast turkey tastes especially succulent, it's because it's carved right off the bird, one of 600 Paper roasts during the year. Naturally, all that handy stock makes for gravy so luxurious it could be served in a snifter.
Scooping coleslaw and potato salad from a can might be easy, but easy isn't what Paper's after. Fresh side dishes ranging from slaw to stewed tomatoes to collard greens receive as much attention as the entrées. Chili aficionados will rejoice with three hearty options — onyx, blanco and the toe-curling dynamite — or try a sampler of all three. The smoked jerked chicken wings are wings for grownups, with a complex zing of interconnected spices. Those with lighter appetites will appreciate the pita pizza selections, the Mediterranean plate or the crunchy salads.
Even the pure Angus burgers are just a blank canvas for Paper. He piles jalapeño bacon and green chiles on one; gyro meat, feta cheese and olives on another; and pulled pork and barbecue sauce on a third.
Barbecue remains the house specialty, but it comes with Paper's creative stamp. Most pit masters are dead set in their ways about what constitutes the best 'cue. Paper applies different homemade spice rubs to meats, and mixes and matches wood accordingly. He uses hickory mingled with mesquite to smoke brisket, but apple wood for the chicken, which he pulls like pork. Meats are served dry, and customers choose from any of seven homemade sauces, including Carolina Mustard, Dr. Pepper's Sweet & Nice and Jamaican Sunset.
The St. Louis-style ribs are meatier than babybacks and coated with a peppery crust. Like all good smoked ribs, they have some texture, allowing you to savor the quality of the meat at each softly tugging bite. Splash on a sauce if you like. Or go nuts and slather on three or four. You think Paper will mind? He'll probably come out of the kitchen and take notes.