Doug & Pearl (charmingly named after owner Tomas Armstrong’s much-loved dogs) is a new player in the dining scene at Cleveland. Tomas describes the food style as “modern Australian, focusing on simple, delicious flavour combinations”. I think that describes Doug & Pearl perfectly.
A warm, two-storey, urban chic fit-out occupies what used to be a tattoo parlour. It’s an inviting space with two walls growing herbs and a well-placed mirror to make the space look larger. Bentwood chairs, wood and brick and soft lighting complete the picture.
The menu is a perfect size. If you are like me and struggle to make a decision when ordering food, there is nothing more annoying then having to wade through pages of a large menu. Keep it simple and do it really well. Doug & Pearl do exactly that.
We dined with our friends the Arnold family and ordered a few starters to share. Olives, in lemon, garlic and chilli ($6.50), smashed pea bruschetta with mint and buffalo mozzarella ($13.50) and local calamari with aioli ($14). The bruschetta; light and full of minty pea flavour, the calamari; melt-in-your-mouth tender.
For mains we chose the local fish of the day which was Swordfish, Linguini with local banana prawn, wild mushrooms, chilli and garlic ($28.50), Gnocchi with wild mushrooms and pork ragu ($26.50), baked meatballs with spaghetti, the salad special of roasted pumpkin and the baby beets with orange, mint and goats cheese and finally, the Spring lamb shoulder for two people (this dish comes with a choice of two sides. Our choice was smashed potatoes with rosemary and garlic, and asparagus, poached egg, truffle pecorino $69.50).
The lamb would have easily fed three people, maybe four small eaters with several side dishes. It was flavoursome and oh so tender. We were told by Tomas, that the lamb shoulders are put in the oven at 1pm every day for a slow cook. They usually only have 6 or 7 of these babies on the weekend menu, so if you really want to try the lamb mention when booking your table that you’d like to order this, that way, you won’t be disappointed. (It’s also available during the week). It came with mint sauce and roasted garlic.
All of the mains and side dishes (I think I had a taste of them all ) had clean, simple flavours using high quality ingredients and I think, very good value for money.
We really didn’t need dessert but we wanted it anyway so Mrs A and I shared what was a fresh and modern take on a trifle made with almond sponge, marscapone, lemon curd and balsamic strawberries ($11). The chocolate chip cookie sandwich with salted caramel gelato and the chocolate brownie with chilli chocolate ganache and vanilla bean gelato (both $11) were also tempting! There is also a small but impressive cheese menu from Italy and France, all served with accompaniments.
Miss Moo enjoyed an affogato with biscotti which was nicely presented and Al had a piccolo. Coffee is by local Wynnum roaster, Dramanti and it’s good, so don’t be worried about ruining a great meal with a bad coffee.
Chef Carlo Valdarchi (former head chef at New Farm Deli) runs a tight kitchen. Once our orders were taken, the food was quick to arrive but not so the ice bucket for our wine. We had to ask about this several times. Despite this small hiccup, service was very friendly but still a few front of house kinks to iron out I think. There is a small wine list, most available by glass or bottle, at very reasonable prices but you can also byo which is a bonus.
It’s clear Doug & Pearl care about what they are doing. The quality of food and value for money is top-notch. I’m really looking forward to my next visit. At the moment they are only open for dinner but are planning on opening for weekend breakfasts in the new year. If you haven’t been for a drive to Cleveland in years, then Doug & Pearl is worth the effort. If you live in Cleveland, lucky you!
10/18-24 Middle Street, Cleveland
Ph: 07 3821 1022