Pearly Baker's Ale House

By Cathy Kiley

Pearly Baker’s Ale House has been around for what seems like forever and is considered by most to be a cornerstone of Easton’s impressive restaurant community. Built in 1863, this historic Centre Square structure originally housed the YMCA; and later in 1935, became home to Easton’s Manhattan Club that occupied the location for over 50 years. Now, it is a favorite meeting and grazing spot among locals and visitors alike.

Present owners, Jonathan Davis and Greg Schuyler totally renovated in 1993 and have restored Pearly Baker’s to the early 20th century grandeur of Historic Easton. The vintage 40-foot Vermont marble and mahogany bar is magnificent. Surrounded by hand-crafted booths and white-tableclothed dining tables, Pearly’s taproom provides a welcoming atmosphere to friends meeting for drinks, co-workers meeting for lunch, or families meeting for dinner or special occasions. The more formal dining room in the rear of the building boasts original wood flooring, soft lighting, vintage artwork, leather banquettes and crisp white linens. A magnificent antique crystal chandelier is the focal point of this dining room and presents a charming atmosphere.

Tom and I dropped in at Pearly Baker’s for dinner a few weeks ago on a Thursday night. We sat at the bar with Nate who explained that Pearly’s has 20 ever-changing beer taps. They rotate approximately 150 to 200 different beers per year but Guinness, Harp, Bass and Smithwicks are always on tap. There is also an extensive menu of bottled beers as well as a specialty drink and martini menu.

Chef Evan also stopped by to chat. He and his staff of five were holding court in the kitchen busily preparing Pearly’s many dinner choices ranging from grazing foods to full course meals. We chose to sit at a table next to the window in the taproom and Celia, a long-time Pearly’s employee, brought delicious warm rosemary rolls for us to munch on while we decided on some of our Pearly’s favorites.

I love Pearly’s potato crusted calamari which, on that night, was served with lemon pesto aioli. I think this is one of the best calamari dishes in the Valley. I always order it, especially in the summer, accompanied by a beer under an outdoor café umbrella. Tom prefers sautéed or grilled calamari but agrees this is his favorite fried version. We also shared the Pulled Pork Spring Rolls. The blend of slow roasted pork and Chinese veggies was served atop two sauces—alehouse beer BBQ and sweet chili. We both loved this dish. It had an interesting meld of tastes while the crispy spring roll crust was not at all greasy and quite delicious. We rarely go to Pearly’s without ordering the Boulder Onion Soup with baked mozzarella and bleu cheeses. The bleu cheese definitely puts a different slant on an old favorite and Pearly’s rich, flavorful onion soup is by all standards one of the best preparations you’ll find locally.

Tom loved his Eastern Shore Crabcakes, served atop Chesapeake risotto with Bloody Mary cocktail sauce and beer-mustard aioli. A dollop of fresh greens also accompanied the very thick and flavorful cakes. The blue claw lump crabmeat was fresh and to our delight, contained little filler. (Tom doesn’t eat cream in any form so crab cakes containing a lot of creamy filler are a turn-off for him.) The preparation of this dish was wonderful, beautifully presented and a treat for even the most discerning crab lover. I chose the vegetarian selection of freshly premise-made raviolis with local ricotta, basil, parsley and sun-dried tomato marinara. After those appetizers, I wanted to taste something light. The raviolis were just that–simply tender and delicious. The marinara was extremely fresh with the deep flavor that sun-dried tomatoes afford. Finished off with shaved parmesan, this was a tasty, delightful meal and so generous that much of the dish went home with us.

We passed on dessert but can attest that Pearly’s serves up a wide selection of scrumptious sweets such as New York-style Cheesecake, awesome Chocolate Mousse (light and airy but a deep chocolate flavor) and classic house-made Rice and Banana/Walnut Bread Puddings.

In addition to being locally-owned and operated, Pearly Baker’s supports local businesses and communities in the Lehigh Valley. They continue to strive to be good neighbors by featuring on their menus products obtained within a 50-mile radius that are organically grown, hormone-and antibiotic- free. They are also ecologically concerned and use eco-friendly cleaning products, turn their fryer oil into fuel and compost as well as recycle. In addition, their straws, take-out containers, and utensils are vegetable-based, biodegradable and made from renewable resources.

The owners continue to support local non-profit organizations with their Chili Cook-Off event. The 15th annual Pearly Baker’s Ale House Chili Cook-Off (always held on Super Bowl Sunday) featured 16 local restaurants this year and all proceeds benefited Easton’s Safe Harbor. The cook-off is a fantastic yearly happening and the partying begins outside on the Square as chili-lovers cue up waiting to get in. We have been to the cook-off many times and can attest this is a fun, tasty happening and a great way to kick-off Super Bowl Sunday celebrations.

We have lived in the Easton area for 30 years and always enjoy going to Pearly Baker’s. It’s a perfect stop after a show at The State Theatre, visiting the Crayola Factory, shopping downtown, or for no particular reason at all. Pearly’s has a kids’ menu, free WiFi and music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights—so put on your dancing shoes!

Whether you are in the mood for a scrumptious burger, soup or salad, flatbread pizza, a tasting of appetizers or a multi-course dinner, Pearly Baker’s has the “cure for what Ale’s you” as well as something on their extensive menu to satisfy the cravings of everyone in your party.

Conveniently located at 11 Centre Square in Easton, Pearly Baker’s is open Tuesday thru Sunday from 11:30 AM to 2:00 AM. They are also open on Mondays during the summer. There is plenty of on-street parking and a parking garage a block away. Log onto: for complete menu and other information.

Cathy Kiley has enjoyed fine cuisine from around the world and written restaurant reviews for the last 20 years both in the Lehigh Valley and on Long Beach Island, NJ.

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