It was a fabulous adventure from the start - Perch is located at the top of the historic Pershing Square Building, which has an amazing vintage vibe, with a welcoming gold-gilded, glass chandeliered lobby. We had to take two sets of elevators to get to the restaurant, both of which felt as vintage as the building itself. The first one was marked with a gold bird silhouette plate next to the button for "13" - which launched our already overactive imaginations into overdrive - hardly any buildings have "13" anymore, thanks to longstanding superstition, and the combination of the unlucky number with the slow-moving vintage elevator triggered thoughts of Being John Malkovich. We half expected the doors to open out to a 'half' floor, where we would have to crawl out through a low-ceilinged hallway to the second elevator bank.
Our excitement to experience the space was deflated when our hostess let us know that the restaurant was booked full for the night, and the 16th floor reserved for a private party.
Ever the optimists though, we decided to go for drinks at the bar, enjoy the ambiance of the space and go for a quick look around while putting our names on the waitlist in case of cancellations.
The bar/ lounge was beautiful, even tucked inside the building. The designers definitely spared no expense with attention to even the smallest detail - everywhere you looked, there was some exquisite embossed wall panel, rustic table or chic amber chandelier that exuded Paris through and through.
We parked ourselves at the bar, where bartenders styled with a 20s/30s look greeted us warmly and asked about our drink preferences before proceeding to create delicious off-menu cocktails for us! It was a hot day, so I wanted to start with something refreshing and light - and got a cucumber-mint gin drink - that I unfortunately can't remember the name of but that was fantastic. Designer got an Aperol Spritz (with prosecco and aperol).
They gave us an incredible table on the rooftop terrace that stretched along two sides of the bar/lounge area, with breathtaking views of the surrounding art deco / sleek glass structures. We were in love with the place before the food ever arrived.
We noshed on baby baguettes, churned butter and olive tapenade while perusing the menu.
I was so excited to try this, as I grew up eating frogs legs cooked the Chinese way and love seeing how it's prepared in other cuisines (and of course the French are famous for theirs). The Cantonese words for frog are 田
Perch's presentation of the dish with uniquely shaped lily root chips was great, and we loved the crispness of the batter coupled with the juicy, yieldy meat underneath - though we wanted the flavor of both the batter and frogs legs to be a bit more pronounced. I think the flavor was intended to come from the honey glaze, but the small dots of it on the plate were so thick and sticky that they weren't really conducive to dipping.
Next up was Roasted Bone Marrow ($16) - I had been disappointed a few times with the way bone marrow was prepared at other restaurants (way too oily), but for some reason was in the mood to give it another try. And Perch didn't disappoint - this was probably the best dish of the night, with the bone marrow nice and fatty but not oily, with a unique consistency that was not quite creamy but almost like softened butter. This was great spread on the slabs of melba toast that came with the dish. For accompaniments, there were braised plums, elephant garlic, fleur de sel and wild rocket. The plums to me were much too thick, sticky and chewy, but designer liked it and thought it went well with the marrow, adding sweetness and a slight tang.
I got a plate overrun by dry toast, with pieces of duck that verged on undetectable, except for the fact that it was almost drier tasting than the toast. The duck bacon fared no better, but was denser in consistency and reminded us of jerky. There were perhaps two small cherry-tomato sized roasted tomatoes that didn't really taste farm fresh. I really wanted to love this dish, but could not bring myself to. That said, I know it'd only been a bit over a week since opening, so have hope that the kitchen will work out the kinks soon.
We decided to skip dessert due to the disappointment with some of the other dishes, and that the descriptions of the offerings from beignets to pot de creme to apple tart did not really inspire us. Also, we thought we could come back another time for just drinks and appetizers, or dessert if they step up their game as they get into their groove. And we loved that our server took the time to get our feedback on the meal, stating that the kitchen is really looking for honest opinions so that they can adjust accordingly, since they had just opened.
The rooftop bar offered fantastic views of the DTLA buildings, and seemed like a great place to hang out with a date or with friends - especially at night with a symphony of lights in the distance, and firepits and heat lamps casting warm glows over the seating areas. A petit, cozy bar with two bartenders is tucked into one corner by the stairs.
All in all, an amazing space that to me seems to marry in the best way, iconic qualities of Paris and Manhattan, vintage and sleek, old world and modern. It's instantly become one of my favorite scenic spots in LA.
Also loved the all round fantastic staff and service as well. Looking forward to returning next time I want to venture downtown for drinks, appetizers and perhaps even a full meal again further down the line, when the kitchen finds its groove.
On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 5.5 bites
Presentation - 5.5 bites
Originality - 5 bites
Ambience - 6.5 stars
Service - 6.5 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $$$$ (4 bite marks mains)
Probability of return visit - 100% (for drinks & appetizers)
[For more photos from Perch, check out the full album on my Facebook page]
448 S Hill St, 15th & 16th Floors, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Parking: In open-air lot across street for $6