Restaurant Review: The Hidden Pearl at Sion Mills offers tasty food and great service
This former stable of Sion Mills, converted into a restaurant and mini-museum to preserve a bit of history, has hosted quite a few restaurants in recent years.
a Hidden Pearl is the third incarnation of this village restaurant, and aesthetically, things remain largely unchanged.
The dining room was full of character, with high ceilings and exposed beams, and there was some beautiful artwork on the walls.
The menu was a fairly eclectic mix of dishes, as is becoming the norm in modern restaurants.
Our masked servers were very polite and attentive which made a good first impression.
We haven’t quite picked up on our previous culinary prowess yet, with three dishes that still seem too difficult, so we shared a starter to kick things off. It was a fairly simple dish of breaded mushrooms with a few crunchy leaves and a creamy mayonnaise. The mushrooms were crunchy on the outside and meaty on the inside and the whole was bursting with garlic flavor. It was a well-executed and satisfying entry.
The main courses were also wonderful. First, there was a chicken dish made with wonderfully chewy chicken supreme, which for me is one of the most important things when serving the humble chicken. It rested on a superbly smooth mash and a stack of crispy onions.
The sauce was really a little boat of happiness. It was thick and shiny and absolutely full of flavor, the kind of thing that could make any meal better. It tasted so good that we both found ourselves dipping the extra sides of fries and veg in the sauce to enjoy until the last bite.
All I can say is if any french fries shop could make gravy crisps like this, I would gladly join the queue.
The other main course was the surf and turf, which consisted of pork and monkfish. The pork belly was tender all over, with an icy exterior. It was garnished with a piece of roasted carrot and sprinkled with mashed carrots. There was also more sweetness than an applesauce. There was a crumb of black pudding sprinkled around the dish to add a little extra texture and a big kick of flavor. The surf came from monkfish medallions. Again, they were perfectly cooked, but got a bit lost among all the strong flavors.
Everything on both dishes showed precise and skillful cooking and attention to detail. The only disappointment was that the side of the roasted baby potatoes I ordered was not roasted. They were just boiled potatoes, which I wouldn’t have ordered.
For dessert, I ordered a chocolate fondant and a raspberry sorbet, only to be told a few minutes later that they were all gone. I was confused, considering that it’s best to cook fresh fondant from a few basic ingredients that every pastry chef should always have on hand.
I was in the mood for chocolate though, so we both ordered chocolate brownies. They were rich and gooey on the inside, with a tough outer rind, full of cocoa flavor and lots of sweetness. I was missing the fondant a bit, but I certainly wasn’t missing a dose of chocolate.
In short, good food, nice place and friendly staff. This place is well worth a try.