Perch + Plow
90 Old Courthouse Square
Santa Rosa, Calif.
The inspiration behind the name Perch and Plow began with its owner, Amos Flint, who combined the locale of the restaurant with its farm-to-table philosophy. Overlooking the historic square in downtown Santa Rosa, Perch and Plow offers a unique bird’s-eye view in the second-story space that was once a nightclub. “The reason for the plow is because we plan to grow our own produce in the near future,” says Jhaun Devere, general manager.
Perch and Plow opened in February, infusing new life into the space with modern art and a steam fireplace. Alex and I arrive on a Tuesday evening, and it’s clear Perch and Plow is already a popular spot on the square. “Amos and I are excited how the City of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County have taken Perch and Plow in,” says Devere.
We begin with cocktails crafted by assistant bar manager, Matt Katzin. The Blueberry Pisco Sour is made with Pisco Portón, a premium grape-based white spirit made in Peru, rose water, blueberry cordial, lime juice and egg whites. Topped with a red blossom, it’s pretty, fragrant and refreshing. The Farallon Fizz is summer in a glass, made with Farallon, Chareau Aloe Liqueur, lime juice and cucumber shrub. It’s topped with limoncello and dill foam. Perch and Plow offers a wide selection of beer and wine, too, but the cocktails are whimsical and fun.
Our server for the evening is Erin Edwards, who delivers a raw crudo, made with thinly-sliced Hamachi (the Japanese name for Pacific yellowtail), thinly sliced and glazed with hot sesame oil. Dressed with chives and grated radish, it’s elegantly plated and the perfect amount to share. We also sample the chef’s fresh twist on vichyssoise. Traditionally, vichyssoise is a thick soup made with leeks, onions and potatoes, but the spring vichyssoise is made with asparagus and potatoes, peas, cilantro and whole grain mustard. A bright spring green, the broth is elegant. “I like ‘riffing’ on other foods,” admits Executive Chef Michael Mullins. A Kenwood native, Mullins’ interest in in the culinary arts was inspired by his grandmother, Velma, who always cooked from scratch and was known for her pies. Finally, we try one of the most popular small plates on the menu—the grilled octopus, which is served with chickpea purée, fennel pesto and onion flower. Perfectly seasoned, the octopus has a beautiful smokiness and crisp, giving it an explosion of texture and flavors.
For the main entrée, we split the pork chop, sourced from a ranch outside Petaluma and served on dill spatzle with red dragon arugula. The pork chop is succulent and juicy and the spatzle, is heavenly with its delicate texture.
One quality that distinguishes this restaurant is its seasonal, ever-evolving menu. Mullins doesn't believe in signature dishes. Instead, he lets the harvest of the season lead the way. “I love working with ripe flavors and colors,” says Mullins. As for his approach to food, he compares his culinary style to music. “A guitar player can play anything—Jimmy Hendrix, Prince, Credence or Salsa,” says Mullins. “As a chef, you must dance on all floors—raw, and sweet to savory.”
Much has been written about the size of the kitchen at Perch and Plow, usually described as being on the small side, but for Mullins, it’s the just the right size where he can dance to his own tune and allow his creativity to free-fall. For me, it’s the perfect size, he says with a grin.
For dessert, we share the carrot cake. As a carrot cake aficionado, Mullins’ creation caught me by surprise. Sweet, but not too sweet, his spin on this confection is both rustic and modern, served with bufala gelato, olive oil and candied walnuts.
Next time you’re in downtown Santa Rosa, stop by Perch and Plow and enjoy the spirited creations of Chef Mullins and staff. In the meantime, plans are underway for patrons, but Devere isn’t offering any details just yet. “The surprise won’t be for another four to six months,” says Devere, “but it’s going to be a great addition to downtown Santa Rosa.”
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