Spat Oyster Cellar
Located downstairs from Pearl, Spat specializes in raw bar and local seafood. Cozy and warm, sit at our beautiful marble bar to watch "the game" (or Turner Classic Movies!) or by the gas fireplace on chilly nights. Spat has occasional hours and is open more frequently in winter
Pearl Kennebunk Beach
Rebecca Charles, chef-owner of the legendary Pearl Oyster Bar in Greenwich Village, invites you to enjoy craft cocktails and a curated wine list with favorites like the Pearl burger with bacon jam and pub cheese, pan-fried chicken, Yankee Magazine's 2019 "Best Upscale Lobster Roll," rib eye or raw bar, the day's pan-seared filet (currently halibut) and a variety of salads like August's burrata and heirloom tomato with local Two Farmers tomatoes. Enjoy our spacious, convivial bar for cocktails or dining, the secluded terrace on warm evenings, and when the air grows cold, our floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace burns brightly!
When Rebecca Charles opened Pearl Oyster Bar in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1997, you found lobster rolls only near the beach, and certainly not in NYC! Boiled lobsters and fried clams, those were the New England staples. Using her chef’s eye, Rebecca reinvented the lobster roll and other seaside classics, making Pearl the widely acknowledged standard bearer for the upscale lobster shack trend and rebirth of the oyster bar.
But for Rebecca, whose family has been summering on Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunk since 1917, this food isn't a trend, it’s a treasured part of her family history. And what she has wanted more than anything, since the 1980s when she was living in her Mom’s big, pink, captain’s house on Kennebunk’s famous Summer Street, is a restaurant in Maine.
In 2016, she got her wish.
Rebecca, a self-taught chef, began her career in 1970s New York City, working her way up the kitchen hierarchy in French tradition, from dishwasher to executive chef. In the 1980s, she moved to Maine where she worked at Ogunquit’s Whistling Oyster with her best friend, Chef Mark Gaier, now-owner of MC Perkins Cove, then got two successive four-star reviews, first as executive chef of the legendary White Barn Inn and later, Café 74, a restaurant of her own design.
When it was time to go back to New York, Rebecca felt she should start as a line cook. Chef Anne Rosenzweig hired her for her seminal NYC restaurant, Arcadia where she eventually became Chef de Cuisine. In 1994, she left to become executive chef of Cascabel, owned by Geraldine Ferraro's family.
In July 1997, Rebecca opened Pearl Oyster Bar in Greenwich Village, and changed the restaurant industry forever when she popularized the now ubiquitous lobster roll.
Pearl started as a 22-seat food bar with a single table--many nights fights broke out in line over that table--and an open kitchen, one of, if not the first, in NYC. This allowed the Chef to bring food to customers herself, which still continues today, and created a convivial atmosphere with people up and down the bar talking to one another, discussing food trends, etc. It was also a gathering place for the neighborhood in times of trouble, especially September 11, 2001.
In 2003, Pearl expanded into the space next door adding 35 seats--all tables! That was also the year she released her cookbook/memoir, Lobster Rolls & Blueberry Pie: Three Generations of Stories and Recipes from Summers on the Coast of Maine, published by Harper Collins.
Rebecca had always wanted to return and open a restaurant there. In 2016, she bought the old Grissini space in Kennebunk, turning the downstairs into Spat Oyster Cellar, a cozy, 40-seat oyster bar inspired by turn-of-the-century New York oyster cellars.
In fall 2017, after a massive February flood destroyed most of the large building, Chef opened Pearl Kennebunk Beach to a 4-star review in the Portland Press Herald. Rebecca can be seen there most nights (when she is not working in New York!) working sauté.
In July, Pearl Oyster Bar, the restaurant Rebecca nicknamed "the little restaurant that could," celebrated its 23rd birthday on Cornelia Street in the Village.
Rebecca has appeared on numerous television
shows including Martha Stewart, Regis & Kelly, The Today Show, and Food Network.
"4 stars -- Pearl's seafood-centric chef with a french muse, the world is her oyster bar!
It's no overstatement to say that 23 years ago, Rebecca Charles
single-handedly changed the way New Yorkers think about seafood."
"For most of the 20th Century, a smattering of New England restaurateurs hawked the dish in relative obscurity. Then, at the tail end of the 90s, a tiny restaurant in Manhattan, Pearl Oyster Bar, transformed the once humble lobster roll into a culinary obsession - and a fleet of eager chefs, hyper-productive Maine fishermen, and savvy New York editors took over from there."
"Taken together ... [Pearl Kennebunk and Spat Oyster Cellar] marry the formula that made Charles a culinary star with her ambition to expand her culinary range. And although she’s certainly not the first chef to attempt to bring a restaurant concept from the city to small-town Maine, here, she’s evolving that concept, not just replicating it. Plus, she has a leg up on others who’ve made similar moves. It’s evident in her smoky clam chowder, mussels simmered in mustard and cream, and that famous lobster roll: she’s already been cooking like a Mainer for decades."
"When Rebecca Charles opened up Pearl (Oyster Bar, NYC) nobody was eating
lobster rolls. Then suddenly they were all over the place."
--- Ruth Reichl, Downeast Magazine
“If any one event marked the dawn of this kind of oyster house, it was the opening of Pearl Oyster Bar in the West Village. Rebecca Charles, its founder and chef…
inspired a new school of raw bars.”
--- The New York Times
Open Table Diner’s Choice Award 2018
As seen on ...
Event Spaces & Party Planning
Whether you’re looking to host a wedding reception for 150, a business meeting or holiday party for 50, a birthday party or baby shower for 20, we have a space for your event.
Choose intimate Spat Oyster Cellar with its warm lighting and gas fireplace, or the sweeping main dining room of Pearl Kennebunk Beach with its vaulted, 20-foot ceilings, wall of windows and great stone fireplace. You can also rent our stunning stone patio with or without fire pit or add it to either space.
Contact us at SpatPearl@gmail.com.
Lobster Rolls & Blueberry Pie
“The cookbook doesn’t just have the best title we’ve ever heard…Charles’ new cookbook-cum-memoir, Lobster Rolls & Blueberry Pie is packed with Maine lore, family memories, and recipes for local delicacies, and it will remind you of the best summers you ever had.”
--- O Magazine, Deep Dish
“Charles is a pleasure to read… you’ll have this book plastered open on your kitchen counter all summer.”
--- New York Times Book Review
“If heaven exists on a dinnerplate, this is it…The result is a homespun travelogue that’s breezy, practical and likely to charm even armchair gourmands not particular to the beach.”
--- LA Times News Service
Regan Books/HarperCollins, $21.99
Signed copies available at the restaurant
Location & Hours
27 Western Avenue,
Lower Village, Kennebunk,
Pearl Kennebunk Beach Hours:
CLOSED- We hope everyone stays safe and healthy and we will see you soon!
Spat Oyster Cellar Hours:
February 24th- March 18th
5--6pm, Every day open
Reservations: (207) 204--0860
Reservations are recommended but Walk-ins are welcome.
Take-out orders available when open.