We had to see the potato nests—rustic fritters cradling cold sour cream and glistening salmon roe spooned without restraint and speckled with the finest dice of fresh chives. Nothing was shy about the dish, from the briny and earthy flavors to temperatures and textures playing at some kind of super-gourmet deconstructed bagel. It was weird and memorable, and really tasty.
The Perch has retired the nests since that September evening, but not in some act of surrender where it cuts out everything adventurous and works the sure things. There are some, like calamari with spicy, smoky tomato dipping sauce, or thick fries with fluffy aioli smacking of garlic. But even the dishes you expect are elevated at Downtown Container Park’s first full-service restaurant.
Given the motley nature of the compound (beef jerky lives across from crazy leggings and a whiskey bar) and the surging energy of the neighborhood’s dining scene, the menu’s delicious clash of influences is on-key.
Spanish favorite pan con tomate ($6) slathers heirloom and Roma tomatoes smashed with olive oil on bread charred enough for bitter notes to play up the fruit’s acidity. Pecans crusted with brown sugar, rosemary and chile piquin ($6) seem a mashup of Southern, French and Mexican comforts. Salmon tiradito ($10) shows how Japanese immigrants impacted Peruvian cuisine, velvet sheets of raw fish dressed in a bright salsa of cucumber, jalapeño and luscious mango.
You could stay light with lemony carpaccio-style beets ($8) or a chopped salad ($10) with tart apple, shallots and dill buttermilk dressing with a touch of heat. But the heartier stuff really shines, especially the flatbreads. Alegra ($13) starts with a smear of refried black beans and queso fresco, adding sweet shrimp and a tangy drizzle of chimichurri. Bianca ($12) nails the umami bomb of cheese (mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan), white truffle oil and fresh arugula tossed in oil and salt. It doesn’t need the $4 prosciutto add-on even a little bit. Don’t get so busy chewing that you forget to sip on a Perch Martini ($9), the rich purple color and floral complexity coming from hibiscus petals, and the boozy kick of Absolut and St-Germain going down way too easy.
While the menu encourages sharing, there are seven designated entrées. Two are pasta dishes, one involving anchovy and currants. As a friend put it, “That’s ballsy.” It’s a $12 pile of silky angel hair saturated with the anchovy’s salty funkiness and heavy garlic, sharpened with lots of fresh parsley and smoothed with almonds and the deep sweetness of currants. It’s so good.
As are the desserts (all $8), from beautifully torched creme brûlée to chocolate-hazelnut torte piled high with fresh whipped cream. But you want the ricotta cup—the best cannoli filling of your life swirled with lemon zest, vanilla bean and poached pears and served with thin vanilla-almond biscotti begging for a dunk.
This is special, uncompromising food, and I hope it stays that way.
The Perch Downtown Container Park, 702-854-1418. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.