First Look: Pearl & the Thief brings Southern comfort to Stillwater

Pearl & the Thief, a new Southern style seafood restaurant and whiskey bar from Justin Sutherland and Joseph Pirri, opens on Stillwater's Main Street Tuesday, May 29, 2018 // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Pearl & the Thief, a new Southern-style seafood restaurant and whiskey bar from Justin Sutherland and Joseph Pirri, opens on Stillwater’s Main Street Tuesday, May 29, 2018 // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg, The Growler

Executive chef Justin Sutherland and general manager Joseph Pirri of St. Paul’s Handsome Hog are opening their new Southern-inspired restaurant, Pearl & the Thief, in downtown Stillwater on Tuesday, May 29.

Between the comfort food dishes and its striking design, Pearl & the Thief progresses the food and drink scene in the historic river town. With the bulk of the city’s restaurants on the south end of town, Pearl & the Thief joins The Velveteen, a speakeasy concept opened in 2017, in bringing fresh dining concepts to the north end of Main Street. And it’s just in time, with the new boutique hotel, restaurant, and cafe, called The Crosby, located one block away, set to open this fall.

Above: The interior of Pearl & the Thief is completely transformed from its days as Pub 112. Below: The upstairs dining space of Pearl & the Thief overlooks the St. Croix River valley // Photos by Brian Kaufenberg

Above: The interior of Pearl & the Thief is completely transformed from its days as Pub 112. Below: The upstairs dining space of Pearl & the Thief overlooks the St. Croix River Valley // Photos by Brian Kaufenberg, The Growler

Sutherland and Pirri, with the support of the owners of LOLO American Kitchen who are minority partners in Pearl & the Thief, have completely transformed the space of the former Pub 112, a dimly lit bar and grill dominated by dark wood and stained glass. Pearl & the Thief’s interior gleams with natural light pouring in through the large street-side picture windows and white tables and bar accented with blue chairs and lime green bench seating. Upstairs, a second bar, lounge, and dining room offers views overlooking the river valley and the historic lift bridge.

Chef de cuisine Brandon and sous chef serving dishes that include fresh oysters, red snapper, and polenta and collard greens // Photos by Brian Kaufenberg, The Growler

Chef de cuisine Brandon Randolph and his sous chef serving dishes, which include fresh oysters, whole red snapper, and polenta and collard greens // Photos by Brian Kaufenberg, The Growler

For Stillwater, the food and drinks are as fresh in concept as the restaurant’s design. Fresh oysters sourced directly from sustainable farms on the East and West coasts, fried whole red snapper, clams and chorizo, a fried chicken sandwich, and polenta and collard greens are a few of the dishes chef de cuisine Brandon Randolph and his crew will prepare from the kitchen that opens directly into the dining room.

The spirits selection and a _____ cocktail made with _______ // Photos by Brian Kaufenberg

Pearl & the Thief's bar is fully stocked with dozens of bourbons, rye whiskeys, and single malts. Cocktails like the Ric Flair are whiskey forward and there are 30 taps serving craft beer and cider // Photos by Brian Kaufenberg, The Growler

The bar at Pearl & the Thief is fully stocked with dozens of bourbons, rye whiskeys, and single malts. Cocktails like the Ric Flair are whiskey-forward, and there are 30 taps serving craft beer and cider. // Photos by Brian Kaufenberg, The Growler

The whiskey list is extensive and bourbon heavy, and cocktails range from classics like old fashioneds and sazeracs to house recipes like the Ric Flair (rye whiskey, cassis, and fernet) and the I Drink and I Know Things (bourbon, St. Elizabeth allspice dram, Benedictine Liqueur, and Bittercube Bolivar bitters). Thirty tap lines of craft beer and cider sit behind the bar to round out the drink offerings.

Find more information about Pearl & the Thief at their website or Facebook page

About Brian Kaufenberg

Brian Kaufenberg is the editor-in-chief of The Growler Magazine.