604 Taylor St, FW. 682-785-8888. 6:30am-9pm Mon-Fri. All major credit cards accepted.
You can’t do much better than the view from Perch’s patio. The nearly two-month-old eatery sits at the Sky lobby level atop Frost Tower downtown. From the ground, an elevator whisks you up 12 floors into a sleek lounge area that houses a dozen tables indoors and perhaps a dozen more on the deck. The outdoor seating, which wraps the building to the west and north, provides a stunning picture of the skyline and sunset.
With its panoramic setting, the cafe is sure to become a hot ticket for romantic evenings and special celebrations, but before you add the place to your date-night rotation, be aware that both the front and back of the houses are still works in progress. According to the manager, the restaurant will soon launch new happy hour and dinner menus, the latter of which will focus on sharable plates.
On our weeknight visit, my dining companion and I noted that our server did the absolute minimum. He was polite but didn’t provide details about the food or make suggestions like the other server working the opposite side of the lovely patio. By eavesdropping, my guest and I learned that there are several specialty cocktails and three kinds of desserts. The bill of fare itself is petite: four dinner salads, four kinds of paninis, and a smattering of appetizers (for now).
The Mediterranean Trio (your choice of three of the six unusual styles of hummus) proved to be an excellent, creative starter. Generous portions of spring pea and black bean dips, along with an olive tapenade, arrived beautifully plated with carrots and standard-issue pita bread, which bore fresh grill marks. The zesty spring pea dish looked like an Aegean guacamole: vibrantly green, a little spicy, with only a faint taste of a healthy vegetable – I mean that in the most complimentary way. The texture of the black bean hummus was a little thicker than refried beans, and its taste was just as decadent. The sassy olive tapenade was salty excellence, and the spread also livened up the flavors of the green pea and black bean dips.
Meatballs bathed in a marinara so light it was almost tomato juice were also a first-rate choice. A generous snowfall of grated parmesan cheese and a precious garnish of microgreens topped two sturdy, well-seasoned coarse-ground meatballs made Nonna-style. (You could still see the onions and herbs in the mix.)
Had we stopped with appetizers and drinks, the experience would have been stellar, but we forged ahead into choppier waters. The Cuban flatbread was a lukewarm mess: The verging-on-dry pulled pork lacked flavor, while the ham packed a cloyingly salty punch. The promised Dijon aioli was missing – and no doubt would have helped liven the tasteless meat. The bread was crunchy, courtesy of a hot press that left the requisite grill marks, and the sandwich was accompanied by a dainty mixed green salad with lovely, creamy house dressing – like ranch dressing with a little twist.
The steak salad was served with arugula and mixed lettuce, the perfect amount of blue cheese, a tart-sweet balsamic vinaigrette, and three pieces of discolored, unforgivably bland meat. I learned that the flank steak is pre-baked in a catering kitchen prior to service, held until someone orders it, and then it’s finished by the chef, which explains the hospital cafeteria-looking results. Since our server never asked my cooking preference, the meat arrived well done, though it was surprisingly tender, given its outward appearance.
For dessert, the cappuccino crème brulee was nigh on perfection, with a thick, crunchy burnt sugar crust that made a satisfying crackle when broken with a spoon. The heavy coffee pudding underneath was amiliorated by generous drizzles of luscious dulce de leche caramel and fresh whipped cream. The lemon trifle tasted like ultra-creamy yogurt, augmented by dainty cubes of angel food cake and a good amount of sweet mixed berries.
I returned the next morning, reasoning that breakfast might be fabulous enough to balance out my uneven dinner. The options included tacos, baked goods out of a refrigerated case, and a cheese-and-ham frittata, which was housemade, precut, and served in a plastic to-go container.
The manager said that breakfast is mostly a courtesy to the restaurant’s office tower neighbors, hence the limited selection and get-out-of-here packaging. She also mentioned that Perch just hired a new beverage manager and that the culinary team is changing. The menu will also be seasonal and may be transformed by fall.
Fort Worth could use another restaurant with a glamour factor, and Perch is still worth a visit for the view alone. Perhaps given the coming changes in management, things might be looking up in the near future.
Mediterranean Trio $15
Meatballs $12 each
Steak salad $12
Cuban panin $14
Cappuccino crème brulee or trifle $7
Baked fritatta $4