When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: The PERCH Pub and Brewery Location: 232 South Wall Street, Chandler Open: About two weeks Eats: Pub fare Price: $15 to $20 a person
Like birds? How about 50 of them?
Well, that's an important question to ask yourself before you head to The Perch, the new gastropub that comes to Chandler courtesy of craft beer aficionado James Swann, and partners Rebecca Lavenue and Sue Sechrest of the online show Adventures in Brew. The restaurant opened on Friday, February 14, and really does house a collection of 50 brightly colored and sometimes quite loud tropical rescue birds.
As of earlier this week, The Perch was still in its "soft opening" phase, which means they're not serving their entire menu quite yet. And more importantly for the craft beer lovers out there, The Perch isn't brewing its own beer yet either.
According to our very friendly server, the government shutdown caused the government agency that regulates breweries to get backed up (we wrote about it in October), which in turn postponed the start of The Perch's brewing operations. The three-barrel, on-site brewhouse is still under construction, but they're hoping to tap their own beers by April.
Previously, Swann has said they'll be brewing some unique stuff like a Dragonfruit Double IPA and beers with acai and pomegranate -- and our server says you can also look forward to a Double Rosemary IPA. What's on tap for now includes two Nitro taps, 12 local brews from a handful of different breweries, and other craft offerings like Fin du Monde ($7 for 10 ounces)
The menu, at least for now, offers a small selection of appetizers including rice and bean summer rolls, a hummus duo, marinated olives, and a fruits and goat cheese spread.
We started with a Beer Sausage Board ($12), from the menu's "Made to Share" section, which promises "housemade sausage links sliced thin" and served with two dipping sauces and bread. We got thick-cut pieces of sausage served with a trio of dipping sauces, slices of toasted bread, and tomato. The sausage -- which had a consistency closer to meatloaf than sausage -- was a little heavy on the fennel but benefited greatly from being paired with the accompanying beer cheese. The spicy beer mustard was nothing too memorable, but we did enjoy the surprise sauce, a housemade pale ale mustard. Eventually, they'll use their own pale ale to make it, but for now, they are using another local beer.
As far as entrées go, you have a choice of salads, sandwiches, and pizzas and we went with the Courtney Macaw's Green Chile Pork sandwich ($8.50). Served on ciabatta bread, the sandwich offered a layer of green chile pork, beefsteak tomato, cotija cheese, and a fried egg. We've had better and far spicier green chile pork elsewhere, but The Perch's version was tender and not dry.
We washed it all down with a glass of The Perch's signature Chardonnay, served from a tap and always $5 a glass. According to our server, all six of the signature Perch wines are sourced from a California winery. If they're as easy to drink as the Chardonnay, they're in good shape on that front.
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As far as the atmosphere goes, The Perch delivers plenty of space, and it's all quite charming. From the bright rooftop patio (with its own bar and taps) to the downstairs patio lit up with strings of lights, the cozy atmosphere is the biggest thing the restaurant has going for it for now. There's also a downstairs bar with televisions and a separate house-like building with more indoor seats.
But, of course, there's the very important issue of the birds. For kids and people who just really like fowl, they're actually a pretty cool feature. There's a whole wall of cages near the front entrance of the restaurant and a separate cage with a white bird named Luna, who will sing and say "tah-dah!" from time to time, if she's feeling friendly.
And for those who don't appreciate feathered friends, you can imagine how the chorus of squawking could be less than ideal. We'll keep our fingers crossed that the beers are good enough that we won't mind.