I’ve never been one of those DC dwellers that can’t stand leaving the city. Maybe it stems from my obsession with travel, but I’m always excited to check out a new scene in the DMV. So I was thrilled to spend some time last week at the new Pike & Rose development in Bethesda. We were invited by City Perch Kitchen + Bar to taste their current seasonal menu, and we were in for a major treat.
City Perch is one of the premiere restaurants in the area, connected to the luxurious iPic Theater. It’s the first independent restaurant concept by Chef Sherry Yard, three-time James Beard Foundation Award winner, with Executive Chef Andre Miller at the stove. The restaurant’s centerpiece is the infinity terrace overlooking the charming street below.
The interior is sleek and sexy in keeping with the look of the theater next door, which features fully reclining seats with blankets and pillows and your own private server.
The “farm-to-glass” beverage program offers fresh takes on classics like a rosemary martini with three-cheese stuffed olives and a Blackstrap old-fashioned with Smooth Ambler West Virginia rye with Blackstrap molasses and kitchen spice bitters. The use of local spirits was definitely a nice touch in these well-crafted cocktails.
Drinks in hand, it was time to start on the food. First up, the most gorgeous bread board I’ve ever encountered. Chef Sherry Yard is a renowned pastry chef so our excitement about this smorgasbord of carbs was off the charts.
You’ve got a cayenne and parmesan popover with smoked sun-dried tomato butter, Chinese butter buns, honey dipped corn bread with goat cheese and wildflower honey and an orange sage biscuit with maple bourbon pecan butter. The Chinese butter buns were the star of the board, soft and pillowy with an earthy note coming from the addition of scallions.
As much as we wanted to devour the whole thing, our server cautioned us to save room for what was to come. The fare at City Perch tends toward the decadent, and we had a lot of eating left to do.
The brioche-crusted Maryland blue crab cakes with old bay remoulade, frisèe-citrus salad and yuzu vinaigrette were light with nice texture. The choice to use bread as a crust and not filler was a good one, allowing the crab to shine through in the dish.
“Everything” waffles with Norwegian smoked salmon, dill crème fraiche and salmon roe were among our favorite bites of the night. The waffle is subtle in flavor, with the real punch coming from the roe and salmon seasoned to perfection. We were able to take two of them home and they made an excellent breakfast the next morning as well.
The French onion soup with braised beef short rib, gruyere and white cheddar gratin was rich, gooey and satisfying and a meal in itself. But we weren’t done yet.
For mains, we tasted three hearty and flavorful dishes starting with the roasted Long Island duck with southern inspired fixins. The Chinese butter buns made a return appearance, and our server suggested we stuff the pulled duck into a bun topped with pickled vegetables and fresh cilantro. We loved the customizable little sliders and Tom raved about the crispy skin.
The grilled pork chop with celery root puree, vadouvan-scented Brussels sprouts and pink lady apples was juicy and tender and another of our favorite dishes of the night.
There were no complaints about the stick-to-your-ribs braised beef short rib with creamed spinach, crispy shallots and potato pancake either. The tender meat and flavorful jus were delicious when paired with a bit of potato pancake.
We didn’t think we could possibly eat another bite, but our server insisted that we sample at least one dessert. While all of the selections were tempting, we went with the chocolate donut with Moorenko’s white chocolate mint ice cream, dark chocolate sauce and macadamia tuile. My favorite part was the refreshing mint ice cream and the pliable tuile which was almost as fun to play with as it was to eat.
The beautiful cappuccinos were the perfect way to cap off this memorable meal, leaving us stuffed and happy.
While the dishes we enjoyed were a little on the heavy side, the menu at City Perch also boasts delicate salads and light seafood dishes like a line caught halibut with ratatouille.
We’ll definitely return next time for dinner and a movie, and maybe a second dinner inside the theater which boasts a completely separate full menu.
City Perch is conveniently located in the new Pike & Rose development, just up the escalator next to iPic Theaters and is open for lunch, dinner, brunch and happy hour seven days a week.