Story and photos by Chelsea Young, October 2015 Issue.
Walking into The Perch Pub and Brewery in historic downtown Chandler is like stepping out of a concrete jungle and into a secluded rainforest.
The indoor/outdoor space is surrounded by lush greenery – landscaped gardens flank the walkways and patio and strings of white lights illuminate the canopy of trees – which makes you feel as though you’re tucked away in a secret garden. Add to that the sound of birds playing, pecking, and cawing, and you’re in for a unique dining (and drinking) experience.
Why the birds? While The Perch is a pub, brewery and full restaurant, it’s also home to a collection of more than 100 tropical rescue birds. This means that, yes, you can dine alongside colorful parrots, cockatoos and macaws. And, while they stay in their cages, your table chatter will most likely be punctuated by bird noises (Courtney the cockatoo joined our dinner conversation).
My dinner date and I arrived around 6 p.m. on a Saturday. We didn’t make reservations and had to wait about 15 minutes for an indoor table. I’d recommend reservations for larger parties, especially during our hotter months, as indoor seating is very limited.
While sipping house-brewed beers at the rooftop patio and bar seemed like the perfect way to wait for our table, I wasn’t impressed with the service and the club-esque music on the rooftop seemed loud and uncharacteristic for a dinner crowd at a place with such a laid-back vibe.
Nevertheless, I chose The Perch Batch 28 Blonde and my date ordered The Perch Rosemary IPA. I always gravitate toward blonde ales, as they are refreshingly light and make for perfect summer sipping. But this blonde ale packed a stronger punch than I expected – it was more malty and heavy for my taste. Conversely, I’m not usually a hops fan, but I enjoyed savoring the Rosemary IPA, perhaps because I love anything herby – and you can definitely smell and taste the rosemary in this selection.
Before we finished our beers, our table was ready. We were fortunate to have one of the brewers as our server, and he was, of course, very knowledgeable about the beer selection. I enjoyed his explanations of the different flavor profiles, and he was happy to bring us as many tastes as we liked before we committed to an entire pint.
We sampled several other house-made specialties, including Zilla Cuke (which had a hint of cucumber), Belgian Peach (a very sweet take on a peach beer), Cinnamon Honey Nut Brown (a darker brew that tasted like Christmas in my mouth) and the Grilled Lemon Cream Ale (it’s actually made with grilled lemons!).
I opted for a pint of the Grilled Lemon Cream Ale while my dinner date went for the Zilla Cuke. The craft beer here is very well priced. Beyond giving free tastes, you can opt to order a 5-ounce pour for only $2 and a 16-ounce pint is just $5 (for most of the beers on the menu, anyway).
For an appetizer, we ordered the goat cheese tater tots, mainly because anything with goat cheese is an automatic win for me. This tater tower was piled so high, and topped with two generous dollops of a whipped goat cheese, that we scarcely made a dent.
I was a bit disappointed that the goat cheese wasn’t somehow in the tots, versus on top, which would have ensured goat cheese in every bite. We both preferred the normal (non-goat cheese) tots, which were crisped to perfection, served alongside our burger.
According to our server, the jalapeno-marmalade wings are one of the best things on the menu. And he was right. Soon, a plate of 12 jumbo-size wings arrived, garnished with a side of ranch dressing and slices of green apple as an alternative to the usual celery. The wings were tender and the flavor just spicy enough. After just two appetizers, it was apparent that The Perch does not skimp on portions.
For our main course, we also took our server up on two more recommendations: the margherita pizza and The Perch burger. Made in a brick oven (which we could see from our table), the pizza comes decorated with mozzarella, tomatoes, and house-made chimichurri sauce. While the beer-infused crust was absolutely amazing, the sauce (actually a chimichurri-flavored pesto) was a less-than-delightful surprise. To me, a margherita pizza is not pesto-based and, unfortunately, I really have to be in the mood for pesto to enjoy it.
The Perch is quite a literal name for this burger: Situated on a brioche bun, it’s stacked high with bacon, an onion ring, jalapeno marmalade, avocado spread, lettuce, tomato and a fried egg. Unfortunately, our server didn’t ask our preference on how we wanted it cooked, so when he brought it to us, he said he had them cook it medium (as opposed to coming back and asking us our preference, I suppose). It was definitely overcooked, and although the runny egg yolk and jalapeno provided nice flavor, it was an expensive risk.
Overall, I was really impressed with our server – from the tastes of different beers to offering us boxes and a carryout bag for our extra food. Every table was full (another good sign), yet our server always came to check in on us regularly, something I’m finding increasingly rare in restaurants these days.
As the temperature continues to drop, and the interest in fall flavors spikes, I would recommend the outdoor ambiance of The Perch for seasonal craft beers and warm, comfort food-inspired appetizers. Just know that if you add an entrée to your order, you’ll be taking leftovers home (because you can’t feed the birds)!