The city of Fort Lee has been undergoing a revival, but perhaps one of the most talked-about additions is City Perch Kitchen + Bar. A branch of the iPic Entertainment Group, City Perch sets the standard as the only seasonal American restaurant amongst a multitude of culturally diverse eateries. Situated inside one of their largest and most recent developments, iPic Theater at Hudson Lights, the restaurant is ideal for both the pre- or post-theater crowd, making it the ultimate evening hotspot. Cultivated from the mind of Chef Sherry Yard, a James Beard Award winner and 20-year Executive Partner to Wolfgang Puck, City Perch bridges the gap between New York City-style fine dining and down-home comfort food.
Embracing Fort Lee’s rich history with the film industry, City Perch unites modern and rustic elements for a big-city feel in a relaxed and intimate environment. The dimly lit space lends itself to a cozy atmosphere where one can come to hang out and stay awhile. Without the added pressure of a night out on the town, City Perch replicates that experience by surrounding guests with great food, quality cocktails and a street view from their lively patio.
The bar program at City Perch is lead by acclaimed mixologist Adam Seger, who serves as the Corporate Sommelier and Executive Bartender for iPic Entertainment Group throughout the country. Seger coined the term “farm-to-glass” mixology, in which he sources fresh produce to create his one-of-a-kind beverages. In fact, everything at City Perch from food to cocktails is seasonally-inspired, incorporating local ingredients from nearby farms and markets. Seger explained, “We start with the farms and the seasons first. What grows together goes together. We look at what’s available from a produce and ingredient standpoint and see how we can highlight and balance that. If I’m working with a specific ingredient, I’m looking for spirits that are going to compliment it.”
Seger also takes location into account, so that each City Perch has cocktails unique to its surroundings. In Fort Lee, patrons can find Seger’s take on an old-fashioned using Philips Farm Grade B maple syrup or explore any of the aptly named “Garden State Garden-to-Glass” and “Hollywood on the Palisades” cocktails. The Patent, made with bourbon and barrel-aged apple brandy is named after Thomas Edison who invented the movie camera in New Jersey, and The Charlatan, made with Pimm’s cucumber and old-school seltzer, is named after Charlie Chaplin who back in the day starred in films produced in Fort Lee. “Every location embraces something different,” Seger said. “In Miami, we juice fresh raw sugarcane for our mojitos and in Los Angeles, we base our cocktails off the famous Westwood cemetery. At our New York location, which will be opening soon, we’re going to channel the mid-1800s when cocktail culture really started.”
Equally as impressive, and just as thoughtfully crafted as the cocktails, is the food at City Perch. With Chef Sherry Yard at the helm of the kitchen, the restaurant prides itself on simplicity and getting back to the fundamentals of cooking. With the majority of Yard’s success stemming from a pastry background, she uses those experiences to her advantage. “In classic cooking, you start off in the pastry department first because pastry teaches you how to hone your skills and how to be very exact. From knife work all the way to sugar work, pastry teaches you how to be a master of many different things. Transitioning from pastry to savory is so much easier than to go the opposite way. For example, can you cook a hamburger? But can you make the bun? You like fried chicken? But can you make your own waffle? Or homemade biscuit?” There are nods to Yard’s pastry background in dishes such as kimchi short rib sliders, crispy chicken and waffles, and their highly recommended bread basket with homemade whipped butters
The methodology behind the food at City Perch is simple: no detail is considered too small. From all of the baking being done in-house daily, to using local and in-season ingredients, it’s hard to deny the role these steps play in yielding a superior product. “We’re a seasonal American dining room. Keep it simple and keep it clean. That’s the way we’re supposed to cook and that’s the way I always have.” Yard’s ability to elevate familiar favorites is perhaps the restaurant’s biggest appeal, from the truffled grilled cheese sandwiches to the loaded baked potato croquettes, each item harnesses a sense of familiarity and nostalgia with a touch of something unexpectedly unique. While we oftentimes find ourselves going back to those classic dishes, Yard emphasized the importance of having a rotating menu that corresponds with the seasons. “When the seasons change, we’ll simply switch up the menu; to me, that’s how memories are made. You start to long for things and just when you say, ‘Oh, I wish they still had that’, something new comes along. This way you don’t get bored and we don’t get bored.”
Offering something truly special to the Bergen County community, City Perch gives guests a chance to indulge in the classics they crave in an environment that channels contemporary American dining. “I kept hearing from people in the community that they wanted a restaurant like you’d get in the city and so that’s how City Perch came to be. It’s food I like to eat, it’s food you like to eat, things that I’d want to share with family and ingredients that you can get locally.”