First Bite: Pearl on the River

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I checked out brand new Pearl on the River yesterday, located on Sacramento’s pretty Garden Highway. The restaurant is divided into two levels – downstairs you’ll find a handsome bar area and quiet dining room, upstairs is an interesting demo-style kitchen/bar plunked into the middle of the room, where patrons can watch white-clad chefs cooking up the restaurant’s small plates. The best seats in the house (I think) are at the tables along the big back windows, which offer a killer view of the river from up high.

The lunch menu listed a number of seafood selections (Ahi tuna sandwich; swordfish with roasted red pepper butter; New England clam chowder) as well as some hearty non-seafood fare such as a Niman Ranch burger and a Caesar salad. I relished the kitchen’s fantastic, light-as-a-feather fried calamari and generously-sized Bay shrimp salad, and look forward to going back to try the beer-battered King salmon. Staff were relaxed and efficient (not always the case with very new restaurants) and the airy, sun-splashed ambience was very welcoming. It takes guts to open an upscale restaurant like Pearl on the River in these shaky economic times – so if you get a chance, stop by and try it out. I’m sure they would appreciate your business.
1379 Garden Highway, (916) 927-2938; www.pearlontheriver.com