It was November of last year when chef Mike Ledesma announced the name for his new venture. He was hoping to open Perch in winter or early spring. However, as often happens with Richmond new restaurants, permit delays and extensive construction got in the way. Nevertheless, Ledesma persisted, and Perch’s careful design and planning continued. After several days of soft openings, his new spot finally opens tonight. I stopped by last week to get the scoop.
Perch Richmond’s Location and Design
Perch is located in the old Joy Garden space right on Broad Street in Scott’s Addition. If you are coming from Boulevard, it has a parking lot right before you arrive at the restaurant.
In terms of design, the extensive construction paid off. Locally made wood doors and ceilings combine with clean whites and blue accents to create a modern, calming vibe that subtly recalls the years Ledesma spent in Hawaii. You’ll also notice a modern version of the mural that covered one wall at Joy Garden, an homage to the history of the space.
There’s a huge teal pizza oven, a chef’s table with special locally made plates, and a private dining room that can seat around 45 “if you’re close friends.” If you go, ask to see the special glass wall in the private room that changes from transparent to foggy at the click of a button, allowing diners to choose if they want to watch the hustle and bustle of the kitchen or enjoy privacy.
Perch’s layout also includes an enclosed patio with fresh greenery and a row of bar stools in front that overlook Broad Street. I’m eyeing these for happy hour cocktails and people watching.
The Menu at Perch
Perch’s food is Pacific with influences from Ledesma’s Filipino heritage along with flavors from his time in Hawaii. Starters and snacks range from light and delicate crudo to more indulgent pimento-crab dip, tempura-fried shishito peppers stuffed with crab and cheese, or even a crispy chicken banh mi.
Ledesma uses that fancy oven for flatbreads that look more like pizza, whole roasted fish, and a hangar steak. On my visit, the show stopping entree was Carolina shrimp with dumplings, bok choy and mushrooms in a light and savory broth.
There are also vegetarian and vegan options. The vegan crab cakes totally surprised this meat eater. A combination of hearts of palm and vegan mayonnaise was surprisingly satisfying.
Desserts are indulgent and creative. Banana bread pudding with miso dulce de leche, brown sugar ice cream, and macadamia nut crunch was every bit as indulgent as it sounds.
Drinks at Perch
The drink menu features a nice selection of wines, local and nationally sourced craft beers, and an extensive cocktail selection. On a hot Richmond day, try the Get Schwifty. It’s a tart and refreshing combination of gin, cucumber, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and lemon.
If you’re more in the mood for Fall flavors, go for the Rust & Stardust featuring Woodford Reserve bourbon, tamarind, vanilla, lemon, “pooter” bitters, and an egg white. Looking for an instagram-worthy libation? I didn’t try the Castle in the Clouds made with Ramazotti, mango, coconut, applejack whipped cream, and mint, but saw a few go by. They created a stunning visual.