Wednesday, August 31, 2016

City Perch review - Pike & Rose in North Bethesda

Much of the buzz around City Perch, the aptly-named restaurant that sits over Pike & Rose's busiest street, has been generated by its epic bread board, decadent desserts and creative, handcrafted cocktails with high-end ingredients. A recent visit finds that all to be true, but with main courses holding their own against the carbohydrates and booze.

WATCH video review: City Perch at Pike & Rose

After you ascend the escalator up to the iPic Theaters, of which City Perch is a part, you'll first be struck by three things - the peaceful, lounge-like space between the host stand and the bar, the wraparound bar itself, and the view from the outdoor "infinity terrace" and windows. That view will get even better once the skeletal frames of buildings rising nearby become part of the finished urban streetscape below the restaurant.

The basic culinary theme is classic American dishes, but many have a twist that either adds a hint of another cuisine. Popovers get a dash of cayenne pepper, and classic dinner rolls get a Chinese spin.

You'll want to start with something to drink, and in this case, it was a Flying Dog Numero Uno from Frederick, Maryland. Highly carbonated, easy to drink and citrus-enhanced, it will hit the spot while temperatures remain in the 90s. I give this beer 5 stars in its category.
But let's get to the main event - the bread board. My favorite was the Chinese Butter Buns. Imagine an upscale version of the best dinner roll you ever had - and then imagine adding whipped Trickling Springs butter to it.

With a crispy snap to the exterior and moist citrus cake inside, the orange sage biscuit gets the most complex spread on the board, maple bourbon pecan butter.
You can see how moist the honey-dipped corn bread is before you even take into account the goat cheese on top.
Finally, there is the aforementioned Cayenne Parmesan Popover, where the pepper provides more flavor than heat. This is great example of how what could have been a five-star flaky, buttery popover is enhanced with an unexpected flavor. The bread board, and each item on it, receive five stars from me. In an age when a chunk of hard, crusty bread that might land you in the dentist's chair the next day is the norm, the City Perch bread selection is the best in the County - outstanding.
So notoriously Bethesda-averse Tom Sietsema agrees with me on that point. But how did he miss the Brioche-Crusted Maryland Blue Crab Cakes? Once again bread takes center stage with the rich brioche exterior. While it doesn't emphasize jumbo lumps of crab, there is plenty of crab in there, and contrary to the Washingtonian review, the meat is flavorful. Standard seafood restaurant enhancements get an upscale boost here, as well. Tartar sauce is replaced with an Old Bay remoulade that you won't leave a trace of on the plate, and coleslaw cedes the plate to frisèe-citrus salad with yuzu vinaigrette. Hey, we are at Pike & Rose, right? This is one appetizer you won't have to share, and with melt in your mouth crab cakes like this, you won't want to. Five stars.
One dish you will want to share is the French classic pommes aligot. Much like the butter buns, think of the richest mashed potatoes you've had, and then add melted white cheddar, gouda and mozzarella cheeses. This five star side dish will serve two or more.
An unexpected bit of peppery spice elevated the more-than-solid Mac & Cheese to four stars.
Vegetarians and meat lovers alike will want to order the Crispy Brussels Sprouts. Sprouts that are cooked just right get a hearty, downright meaty flavor from miso, shaved pecorino cheese, crushed peanuts, and orchard-fresh caramelized apples. They're topped off with togarashi, and I'm delighted to report that this is the second time in a month I've encountered that Japanese spice on a Montgomery County menu - it's officially a trend.
The grilled shrimp is just what it sounds like. Plenty of smoke flavor, and the shrimp are huge. With the simple kale and tomato garnish underneath, those not eating light will want to add a side dish to this nice 3 star entree.
Another view so you can
see how thick that shrimp is
My personal choice was the Braised Beef Short Ribs. Again, the chef starts off with a well-executed meat centerpiece that you can slice with your fork. You'd go home thinking that was a satisfying four-star chunk of beef that delivered exactly what you order short ribs for. But switching out the ubiquitous red skin mashed potatoes and undercooked green beans that often join short ribs at many restaurants earned this an overall five star rating. Instead, you get rich and tender creamed spinach, and a massive, crispy and fluffy potato pancake. Absolutely delicious.
It's hard to pick just one dessert from this menu. But considering how rare it is to find Baked Alaska on menus around here, I had to order it. The torched, towering meringue swirl on top tastes a lot like a toasted marshmallow. Cutting against that very sugary exterior is the lemon gelato inside, which has a real bite to it. Blueberries fit in between the two on the sweetness spectrum, and there are many of them in there. All of this is on top of a triple-gingerbread crumble. I give this five stars.
If nothing else, you'll want to stop by for a bread board before a movie at iPic, or ask the bartender what's new on the cocktail list. But staying for dinner is an excellent choice also, with a menu that will please picky or unadventurous diners as much as those looking for a roasted Long Island duck, or an unexpected twist on an American classic.


Anonymous said...

Looks very tasty, but I bet with all that butter the calorie counts are super-high.

How much is the bread board? I might stop by for a drink and give that a try also.

Anonymous said...

Robert, are you going to tell your readers that City Perch gave you this meal for free?

Anonymous said...

It's a restaurant review, it's not like reporting on the Bethesda Jazz Club and not disclosing that you are an owner. Relax folks.

Anonymous said...

Everything Dyer reviews is "an excellent choice" or "earns five stars". LOL

Anonymous said...

Any specific local restaurant review by Dyer that you disagree with?

It's not like he went to a disaster like Soup Up and inexplicably gave it a special "Editor's Choice" award.

Anonymous said...

Did you eat all that in one sitting? Also do you pay for the food or is it complimentary?

Doug said...

They used to do a late night happy hour (even on Fri & Sat nights) which had great food and drink specials. Their drinks and bar bites are still really good and nice outdoor space.

Robert Dyer said...

6:51: The bread board is $10.

7:10: You obviously didn't read or watch my review if you claim every item got five stars.


Maloney Concrete said...

Great review and photos. I want to check this place out now.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

7:49AM - Do you have a cite for that statement?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Eat Shit Dyer