CK Pearl [Essex, MA]

This weekend, we needed a long walk to shed our cares so we headed to Cape Ann for a stroll on Crane’s Beach. We wanted an early dinner afterward so, on a whim, we tried CK Pearl in Essex. We managed to snag the last two seats at the bar at 6:30-ish.

Two cocktails and a half-dozen Aunt Dotty oysters to start. Expertly shucked, perfectly chilled, and accompanied by a lively mignonette (which I’ll always taste even though I don’t use migonette on pristine oysters. Go figure.)

Our mains were new to the fall menu: I chose scallops with charred squash, house-cured guanciale, Brussels sprouts leaves, shiitake mushrooms, and dabs of Marsala cream underneath. A dish like that requires proportion and restraint to be successful, and I am happy to say that it was. The charred squash paired better than I thought possible with beautifully caramelized scallops. Crisped slices of guanciale brought porky richness to the plate.

My husband picked spicy lobster carbonara. The dish was topped with a soft-cooked egg to mix into the hot pasta. Another departure from the traditional prep was sautéed cherry tomatoes that helped lighten the dish. The only drawback was that the spicy carbonara was not at all spicy—maybe chili flakes or pepper were missing? Even so, my husband was pleased with his choice.

Two cocktails, 6 oysters, two generous main dishes (our dinners were among the priciest items on the menu), and two glasses of wine set us back $128 before tip. A nice treat.

We hope to try CK Pearl again sometime to see if this happy experience can be duplicated. We didn’t book a table but will think ahead next time given how busy the restaurant was early on a Saturday night in October.


hah, this is me as well. I never put the mignonette onto a good oyster, I just taste it on its own. There’s no sense gussying up a perfectly good oyster!


Me three.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold