Chef John Seymour basically has Bedford Avenue and N. 8th Street on lock, with his chicken and waffles mainstay, Sweet Chick, on one side of the street, and the grass-fed burger shop Pop’s on the other. And only a few storefronts down, his wife, Fallon, recently added an entry to the family dynasty as well—a casual Caribbean canteen called Pearl’s, inspired by the fare of her native Trinidad.
While large swathes of Brooklyn—from Bed-Stuy to Crown Heights to Prospect Lefferts Gardens—are practically paved with rotis and bakes (which, contrary to their name, are actually deep-fried, doughy pocket breads), West Indian eateries have remained largely, peculiarly non-existent in Williamsburg, save for the short lived Jify’s (which mostly explored the Creole cuisine of Curaçao), and Battery Harris, better known for its outdoor digs and frozen dark n’ stormy’s. It’s a scarcity residents seem happy to have amended, eagerly seeking wintertime refuge in Pearl’s generously heated, gaily colored room—appointed with vintage boom boxes, turquoise chairs, and graffiti art dedicated to Caribbean musicians—which fairly reverberates with the merry rhythmic thrum of calypso.
A succinct selection of libations are agreeably tropical (think rum punch, housemade sorrel shandies and yes, frozen ginger dark n’stormy’s), but it’s the assortment of exceedingly authentic, beyond-jerk chicken dishes—which equally reflect the country’s East Indian, African, Spanish, and Chinese influences—that put Pearl’s on par with the hallowed curry houses of Brooklyn. A large part of the menu is devoted to those aforementioned bakes (chief amongst them, bake n’ shark, made with fat filets of white fish, although fillings also include chickpeas, short rib, or geera pork) all accompanied by that holy trinity of Trini sauces—searing scotch bonnet, plummy tamarind, and grassy shadon bennie. An alternative wrapper, of course, is roti, which is essentially a tissue-thin tortilla, tucked burrito-style around fillings like shreds of curried chicken, or sweet curls of shrimp.
Add in hard to come by specialties like coriander gravy-sauced conch (cubed, tenderized sea snails) ladled atop a single rolled dumplin’, and a trio of stuffed crab backs, the meat tossed with spiced breadcrumbs, and poked back inside of their hollowed-out, palm-sized shells, along with a pour-it-yourself squeeze bottle of liquid scotch bonnet, and — thanks to those enterprising Seymours—Williamsburg finally be limin’.
178 N. 8th Street, Williamsburg