Perch LA Brunch: Utter Disappointment…
There are restaurants with tons of hype, especially throughout Los Angeles. With a surge of talent and culinary variation, to be such an epic letdown is something I find nearly unforgivable. Perch LA is by far one of the greatest restaurant locations in all of Los Angeles. Located in the heart of Downtown, Perch LA boasts beautiful 1920’s decor, situated – or rather, “perched” – on the 15th floor overlooking Pershing Square, extraordinary interiors and exterior, and well, after all I’ve read and heard I have to admit that my expectations were nearly as high as the building itself. There is a great deal of talk of how amazing Perch is, how extraordinary dining there is, and while I cannot deny the plausibility of such an exquisite location, their Brunch Chef should care FAR MORE about what is sent out of that kitchen. (And let me just say I’m not alone.) Sure, every chef has an off day but this was beyond an off day and was missing the heart and soul that makes a chef so wonderful. That is NOT a good sign.
Initially, I had reservations to go on a Saturday night to celebrate an anniversary but after deciding to lay low, was lured in by the mystique of Perch’s Sunday Brunch from 11a-3p. I had called to cancel my reservation for Saturday night and instead reserve a table on the patio for 12:30p Sunday. On hold by the automated system, eventually I was prompted to leave a message. I did. I got a phone call back and a gentleman left me a voicemail saying they didn’t have me down for Saturday or Sunday. Um, yah – let’s begin with problem one: I spoke with the front of the house earlier that morning confirming my Saturday evening reservation. But I try to overlook it and call back. On hold … again only to be prompted by the automated system once more to leave yet another message. In retrospect, had this meal blown my mind in all the right ways, I may not have cared so much about the reservation debacle – but in light of the meal being so tragically disappointing, the “we’re too popular and couth to speak to you in person when you make a reservation” just doesn’t seem at all apropos. In their defense however, the sweet girl at the host stand with the “chakras” tattoo spoke to the manager and they made adjustments to get us a table on the patio. (A prime example of how service can almost make up for all other shortcomings.) So as the sun began beating down on us in perfect Californian warmth, we waited for a server to arrive. We waited a while and thankfully someone took pity on us and brought us water. Before too much time passed Paul stands before us with his bow tie and warm demeanor. A good beginning …
We order the champagne: Pol Clement with a side of pureed peach. Without missing a beat, Paul disappears and soon reappears with an ice bucket, a bottle, two glasses, and the peach puree. He pops the cork and pours it effortlessly but once the glass is filled, we realized we need a stirrer. As we surveyed those around us who had ordered the same thing, it seemed that was the one little necessity this cocktail warranted. (So Perch LA if you’re reading this, suggestion would be to serve the Bellini with a glass stirring stick that goes with your lovely vintage theme…)
Now as our appetites long to be fed, we begin with asking about the oysters. They’re not available – in the process of finding a new supplier. We go with the salmon tar tare as well as their wedge salad. The salmon arrives and it can be summed up by saying it was a cute idea: the salmon, bread, quail eggs, and avocado compote is resting on the plate creating the “visual” a little “food” man.
I take the bread, smear on the compote, put the shiny salmon atop it and ice it with the half of a quail egg. First bite: way too gummy, not enough citrus, and a strange barrage igniting an unfortunate lack of flavor. The aftertaste was like someone left the slimy guts of the fish and forgot to actually get rid of the waste. It wasn’t good. And I really wanted it to be because it was presented so playfully, which I appreciate. Next – the wedge salad. While I love a good salad, at a restaurant like this, I find it highly lackluster to have to even make the next comment: at least the salad was good. Well, at least at the first couple of bites were before the sun began to completely misappropriate the lettuce, overheat the buttermilk dressing, and rob a salad that may have actually been – dare I say, great – no … no, I don’t dare say. But, this really was the best dish of the entire meal. (And while the heat had its way, I ate almost every bite and it was good …)
As we contemplate (rather hesitantly) what exactly we are going to order, we decide to share the “two filet medallions served with mushroom and rosemary potatoes“. As our server Paul heads inside to place the order, the two gentlemen sitting beside us spark up some conversation. We saw their Eggs Benedict arrive and asked them how it was. Without pause, they looked at me and said, “AWFUL” and then the one gentleman said, “if I can be honest, it was the worst breakfast I’ve ever had” and then his friend chimed in to add, “I’m certain they used store bought English muffins and I mean the bargain brand”. YIKES! The highlight was we sat down to an amazing duo shared Sangria and Bellini’s and waited for our final dish to come. It did.
Oh boy where to begin with this dish! The “filet medallions” looked like dried up pieces of meat that were NOT cooked medium rare with truly deplorable excuses of mushroom stalk resting atop them. The potatoes looked (and tasted) like day old leftovers and surprise surprise – not a sprig of rosemary in sight. I couldn’t even take a photo – it was that ugly. Really? For a restaurant so notable, so revered, what in the world happened?! This was by far the worst brunch I have ever experienced. Thank god for alcohol!
The only positives I can add are these: the server was wonderful, service overall was good, management was accommodating, the drinks were fantastic, but the meal was not even “Denny’s” grade. A hundred dollars later, stomachs in disgust as the alcohol kills any further trace of bland and “over-hyped”, all I have concluded is Perch is NOT where you go for remarkable food. Clearly this is where you go for exquisite ambiance, ear candy with an impressive selection of live music, and loads of mysterious cocktails by way of fun mixologists like Jenna who you can find perched in the bar nest above at the highest rooftop bar on the premises. So when you feel the urge to come the only day they’re open for brunch, STOP and ask yourself, “Is this worth it? Is it worth the long wait? Is it really that good?” – Save yourself the trouble. The answer is a hearty – NO. It’s not worth it. To my dismay, any longing I had to try dinner here has been snuffed out by my brunch experience which is a shame. So – Perch LA – you’ve got some undeniable work to do and I’d start with your standards of quality and taste. You are capable of MUCH better (PLEASE! Do us all a favor and rise to the occasion…)
PERCH LA | 448 South Hill Street, 15th Floor | Los Angeles, CA 90013