Efficiency is more than its own reward: If you do it right, you get more. Of everything.
I'm not alone in obsessing about combining tasks, dovetailing destinations and packaging errands to reward one car trip with two or more experiences. Imagine the thrill, then, of not only welcoming The Perch crêperie in Green Hills, but of discovering its close proximity to a toy store (Brilliant Sky), yoga studio (Sanctuary), nail salon (Signature) and world-class bookstore (Parnassus).
The new Perch location aims for the same intimate feel as the dollhouse-sized original Perch in Brentwood. The pleasantly neutral naturals and higher ceiling make it feel larger and roomier but — hard to believe — it has the same amount of seating as the Brentwood Perch, around 80 seats.
Free Wi-Fi invites lingering over a candy-cane or cinnamon-vanilla latte with a little light browsing. You could do some office work, but The Well, a coffeehouse across the street, has that niche pretty well filled for now.
There's a lot of chatting at the Perch tables, both business and personal. The cozy two-tops are probably excessively close quarters for heavy, serious discussions or business negotiations. Save that stuff for the steakhouse, because it's all light and happy here.
The menu is nearly identical to Brentwood's: crêpes, crêpes and crêpes — plus scrambles, omelets, Belgian waffles, a couple of salads and a few happy additions.
Every crêpe has something to recommend it, and there are enough that it'll take quite a few visits to work your way through all the appealing flavors assembled by chef Jack Pritchard, formerly head chef at Wild Iris.
Take the pear, blue cheese, walnut and arugula: The combination that has been the highlight of dinner parties and potlucks for a decade is rolled into a springy crêpe that transforms it into a meal. Or try the spinach, havarti and artichoke, which deconstructs everyone's favorite hot dip and bundles it inside a perfectly folded triangle of satiny pastry.
The crêpes add just the right amount of chew and resistance, and are sturdy enough to pick up and eat burrito-style, though I never saw anyone attempt it. The tops are garnished with a sliver of each ingredient, a clever calling card to help identify the contents — efficient for both server and guest.
They're good wrapped around simple ingredients like eggs and cheese, and great with sweet fillings for breakfast or dessert. Topping that list is the classic lemon juice and sugar, a duet of powdery sweetness dissolving into bright lemon. Minimalists will appreciate the simple jam crêpes, and for maximalists, there's the peanut butter, banana and granola stuffing. The menu also takes advantage of the easy compatibility of crêpes and chocolate. Nutella and Nutella-and-banana crêpes seem decadent enough, though they pale in comparison to the s'mores crêpe — pure eat-until-you-feel-pretty bliss.
While I don't presume to tell anyone when to eat what, "lunchy" is a good word for crêpes that mimic sandwiches, offering a superb alternative to bread for a classic ham and cheese (honey ham, muenster, Dijon), Reuben (corned beef, Swiss, kraut, bistro sauce) or mushroom and Swiss. Also lunchworthy: combinations that veer toward heartier ingredients with more aggressive, sophisticated flavors. A filling of prosciutto, kalamata olives, arugula and mozzarella offers salty, tangy, creamy and meaty, but it's the drizzle of balsamic that makes it sing. You might feel like singing once enfolded layers of herbed turkey, brie, arugula and cranberries get your mouth's attention. And the medley of Anjou pears, walnuts and brie is the kind of ladies-who-lunch quartet that calls out for wine — which should be available at Perch about the time this review appears in print.
John Kressaty, who co-owns Perch with his wife Heather Chandler, says enough customers requested a smoked salmon crêpe that they were compelled to develop one. The Nordic crêpe is a heavenly interpretation of the deli favorite, featuring a soft schmear of cream cheese, a layer of tender smoked salmon, a strewing of capers, a sprinkle of lemon juice and shards of red onion.
It's hard to fathom, but some people just aren't into crêpes. For them, smoked gouda grits with shrimp are a go-to alternative. Stone-ground grits are cooked with cheese to creamy richnesss and served in a generous bowl topped with three grilled shrimp. Omelets and scrambles scratch the protein itch, most compellingly the Spanish scramble — two eggs tossed with chorizo, manchego, scallions and a respectably spicy salsa verde.
Edging toward the pancake spectrum are Belgian waffles (served all day every day at the Green Hills location) and the newly developed sweet potato streusel waffles with marshmallow. Other options include soup — also new to the menu — and either the terrific warm salad of spinach, bacon and shaved Parmesan salad, or the spring mix with baby beet, goat cheese, and candied walnuts.
We experienced both an awkward ordering setup and long waits for food on an early visit, but the kinks had been worked out within weeks, and now the flow is smooth and the service quicker. It's not instantaneous, but this is freshly made food, after all.
Watch the process for yourself through the window as the crêpes come off four burners, the fillings are folded in and the whole beautiful thing packaged up and slid onto a plate, then garnished with its tiny calling card of ingredients. It's a meal and a show in one — a kick for a multitasker.
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