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Perch: French Cocktails in the Sky

perch french bistro downtown LA
Image used with permission by copyright holder
If Bruce Wayne ever opened a restaurant/bar, it would be Perch. Occupying the top two floors of the gorgeous 1923 Pershing Square building in downtown Los Angeles, Perch is a French bistro in the sky.

Getting to Perch is a tad eerie, which adds to the experience. The glory of the Art Deco lobby has been slightly neglected and a security guard sits silently behind a desk, never acknowledging anyone is there, suggesting you’re going to take a “Twilight Zone” elevator back in time to a 1920s Parisian party. The only clue you’re in the right place is the tiny brass bird icon next to the elevator’s top floor. Except, you’ll find you’re not yet on the building’s top floor. Once you get off the elevator, you’re in the world’s smallest lobby, with thick velvet curtains, art, and a piano, where you wait for another elevator that will take you up to the 15th floor. A bouncer is on hand to allay any confusion.

The second, shorter elevator ride opens into Perch– which looks a little bit like the penthouse apartment of a wildly interesting rich person. Thirty foot ceilings lean on huge arched windows that open out onto a wide stone patio. Paintings and heavy, seemingly-antique furniture dominate the room, but nothing can distract from the perfect views of downtown glittering all around. You can eat inside or out on the patio, of which a few chairs and tables are reserved for just drinks. Take the door upstairs to the 16th floor for the 360-degree view of the city. Fireplaces glow, music plays (anything from classic to guest DJs, depending on the hour), and damn good drinks flow.

The wines are largely French and they offer an incredible Apéritif hour from 4 pm – 6pm with $5 beer, $6 glasses of wine, and $7 cocktails. The food is also happy hour priced, like the Brie en Croute for $6, which is puff pastry wrapped brie, apple, fennel, pecan slaw, and whole grain aioli. The prices, the quality, and the atmosphere frankly make Perch one of the happiest happy hours in town.

If you’re having dinner, don’t miss the Steak Frites (the truffle cheese fries will haunt your dreams), or the Little Bunny Frou Frou, which is rabbit-stuffed ravioli. But whatever you order, save room for the phenomenally warm, gooey, fluffy-but-somehow-satisfyingly-dense White Chocolate Bread Pudding. You’ll probably want to slather everything in its Bourbon-caramel glaze. All of the desserts come with extremely helpful wine pairing suggestions, none of which are crazy expensive. For example, the dream bread pudding can be enjoyed with a $10 glass of Six Grapes Port. Executive Chef Gerardo Benitez rotates the menu to keep things fresh and seasonal, so you’ll never be bored.

The service is outstanding. For as chic a place as this is, the staff is friendly and helpful. No cool, reserved disdain of the tragically hip here. You might have to wait a minute or two for your drink at the bar if it’s busy, but they’re only human and that happens everywhere.

Reservations are key. If you don’t want to stand in line (and it will become a long line), make a reservation. It’s best if you can do it about a week ahead, that way you’re likely to get the date and time you’re looking for, as well as your preference for indoor or outdoor table. If you’re going to wing it, show up early. Again, avoid the line. No one likes lines. After 9 pm, it’s 21 and over only. And if you squint, you might just see F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald mixing up another Gin Rickey.

Elizabeth Dahl
Elizabeth Dahl is a southern girl in the heart of Los Angeles who lived far too long before learning what an incredible food…
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