Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers (Tenderloin, San Francisco Location)

Posted: June 30, 2012 in B^4
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Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers

I was bumbling around SF and the Peninsula one day after watching an exciting Giant’s game at Phone Company Park. After picking up some people in Millbrae, a motion was set in favor of eating dinner. Oddly enough I wasn’t that hungry, so I was not vocal about where we’d go. But as fate would have it, everyone else decided on burgers! They in fact chose Pearl’s, which happened to be near the top of the list of Bay Area burger joints to try. So color me hungry – sure I’ll have a burger!

I was feeling a bit adventurous, so when I saw the Spicy Sly burger with a pumpkin habanero sauce? Yes, please! Opted to mooch a few fries and sip of milkshake off a friend.

There’s not much room to eat at this Pearl’s – it’s a small restaurant, and you should be prepared to wait. We actually lucked out and found room for the 6 of us – perhaps we were on the early side for dinner in urban San Francisco (about 6:30 PM). The place is clean enough, and it’s on a nice enough street, so I’d be fine coming here after dark.

I knew I was in for a serious burger when it was served. Literally, sauteed onions and peppers falling all around a juicy burger, and nice firm bun (Acme, I believe). It reminded me a lot of a Philly Cheese Steak, especially with the consistency of the melted cheese smothered all over the burger.

But what I got, in fact, as I bit into this serious meal, was a big kick in the mouth. The habanero sauce was very vinegary, reminiscent of a Texas-style BBQ sauce, except with the addition of a substantial amount of habanero. Mind you, I am certainly not a spice wimp; rather, I am more than willing to endure a post-pepper temporary numbness in my mouth for the sake of deliciousness. And by the time this big boy was done, my mouth was pretty much numb. And the sauce, let me tell you, was really, really good.

But how was the burger as a whole, you ask? What, you mean cheeseburgers aren’t made out of peppers?

So my honest opinion is that there was too much sauce on the burger. As time went on, everything got a bit soggy, as it became soaked in this spicy sauce. Couple that with the abundance peppers and onions which already contain liquid of their own, and you start to run into a problem. My burger definitely got soggy. Also, because the sauce IS so potent, a smaller amount of sauce would create a much nicer harmony of flavors. All the ingredients are made for each other – chili sauce, peppers, onions, jack cheese, burger patty, sesame seed bun. But balance is key when you’re combining salty, spicy, and sweet.

The problem is that because the sauce was so overwhelming, it’s hard to talk about the nuances of the rest of the burger. I can say that the meat was definitely juicy, but the seasoning of the beef was lost, so I don’t really know if the proper seasoning was used (Yelp reviews would suggest it is). Also, there were so many peppers and onions, that their texture took over the melt-in-your-mouth feeling of a great burger patty. The once-crispy bun quickly became a bit soggy as well, so more texture was lost.

So overall, plenty of flavor, but a bit lacking in execution. Judging by the intensity of the sauce, I’m guessing this is the hardest balance to get right of all the burgers on the menu. I can look past the flaws in execution if the flavor is there, but next time, I’d really prefer a tidier burger – a reasonable portion of sauteed veggies, and less spicy sauce, and you’d have a home run, here.

As I noted above, I only tried a few fries, and an onion ring, and I was satisfied with them. The fries were thick and soaked up lots of habanero sauce, and the onion rings passed the homemade test. Success!

I tried a sip of milkshake (Oreo Cookies n’ Cream), and it was very good. I probably wouldn’t get a milkshake if I was having a burger with sweet toppings, but with the right burger goes the right milk shake! My friends recommended the Nutella milkshake, for what it’s worth.

I feel like I’ve been fairly harsh on Pearl’s. Everything was really good – the ingredients are there, the talent is there, and the price is right – everything was very tasty – but in this case the subtlety and balance was off.

I would come back to Pearl’s again, but maybe opt for something a little more…shall we say…standard.

The Last Bite:

Burger Rating: B+

Overall Experience (sides, service, cleanliness, price, etc.): B+

Keep on nomming!

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Comments
  1. ahu says:

    first of all, lol @ ‘phone company park’. 2nd, pumpkin habanero sauce sounds very unique. oh and those fries look amazing!

    • Every few years, there always seems to be a change in the phone company! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I don’t think we’ll see Verizon Ballpark anytime soon, though…

      Interestingly, I’d never realized that those orange habaneros were called pumpkin habaneros…I thought that’s what all habaneros looked like! ๐Ÿ™‚

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