For Executive Chef Ryan Rupe, making the The Pearl Restaurant, Tavern & Oyster Bar the best is a never-ending pursuit. “The expectations right out of the gate have always been very high for this restaurant, and we prepare to keep exceeding our own expectations,” Rupe said.

To say they’ve exceeded expectations is an understatement. From (614) Magazine to Columbus Underground to Columbus Monthly, The Pearl was the unanimous winner of Best New Restaurant 2013, an exciting feat for a restaurant that celebrated its one-year anniversary in February 2014. The best aspect of the restaurant so far for Rupe has been all the positive feedback from diners, and she works hard to keep the menu fresh.

“The great thing about The Pearl is the menu is always changing, and you can be extremely creative with it, and get away with it,” Rupe said. “We’re always keeping up on what Columbus really wants to see, or even what Columbus hasn’t seen that they might like, just to be on the cutting edge and offer things that other places don’t really have.”

One of Rupe’s favorite dishes at The Pearl is the hanger steak with kimchi fried rice because she feels it’s not typical fare and is unique to Columbus. Another favorite is the pork trio, which requires several different cooking techniques, including sous-vide. “To be in a restaurant where we are able to say that we sous-vide our food is pretty cool,” Rupe said.

The Pearl has also adapted to what Columbus wants to see by catering to those seeking healthier options. “People would leave here a little bit guilty,” Rupe said. “We’ve definitely brought in a lot of lighter options to choose from, like a Roasted Chicken dish that has a quinoa salad with fresh cucumbers and pickled red onions.” The Pearl will also soon be featuring a few new happy hour menu items and an “amazing oxtail-broth ramen dish.”

In the coming year, Rupe plans to keep the positive factor they’ve created and make The Pearl even better. “Overall, everyone is very thrilled with what we’ve done so far,” Rupe said. “Obviously we can’t stop there, we just have to keep going. I really just want to keep making our restaurant amazing. I want everyone to say The Pearl is their favorite restaurant in Columbus.”

For more information about the Short North Gala, click here. Buy tickets here or to reserve a table, call (614) 299.8050.

– Michelle Gibson