Buttered popcorn? Psh. North Bethesda’s iPic Theater, which opened at the end of last month, is fancifying “dinner and a show.” The luxury theatre has teamed up with in former Wolfgang Puck executive pastry chef Sherry Yard to oversee an in-cinema menu and open up a restaurant called City Perch Kitchen + Bar, which debuted Monday, above the building.
Yard, a James Beard award winner based in California, is friends with iPic Theaters CEO Hamid Hashemi. “He said, ‘I didn’t know opening up theaters, I’d become a restaurateur,'” Yard recalls. His idea: take away the lobbies, and in their place, put beautiful restaurants. That’s how she came into the picture.
In the theater, the finger foods-heavy menu makes it easier to eat in the plush leather reclining chairs with personal pillows and blankets. An iPad allows guests to order lobster rolls, short rib bao, pizzas, and more.
“No matter what, it has to be fast and it has to be good, so we’ve designed the menu like a Porsche,” Yard says. “It’s revved up and it’s ready to go.”
For a meal before or after—rather than with—the latest showing of Interstellar, there’s City Perch. Despite the fact that it’s perched above the theater (hence the name), Yard is adamant that the restaurant is its own entity. “City Perch is a dining destination. It can sit on its own. It looks completely different,” she says. “The menu is completely different.”
Former Occidental chef Matt Baker is executive chef of the seasonal American restaurant. Yard says they’ve tried to tailor the menu specifically to the local community and take advantage of local ingredients from the farmers market. “Montgomery County to me is like Hudson Valley to New York,” she says.
The menu includes dishes “from the rotisserie” like porchetta, za’atar-crusted lamb shoulder, and black sea bass with fennel and orange as well as grilled and broiled entrees ranging from a bison ribeye to yellowfin tuna with tarragon marinade. There’s also small plates (like the “everything” waffle with smoke salmon, dill creme fraiche, and trout roe), sharable salads, and a number of potato dishes and sides. A raw bar supplies shrimp and oysters, while biscuits, popovers, and cornbread are made in-house. Desserts include baked Alaska pie, cream puff brûlée, and banana chocolate chip souffle.
Sommelier Adam Seger put together the drink menu with more than 100 wines featuring small producers in Maryland. Cocktails, using a range of housemade bitters, syrups, and infusions, are divided into categories like “fizz,” “fruit,” and “whiskey.”
You might want a few before you got to see Nightcrawler.
City Perch, 11830 Grand Park Avenue, North Bethesda, Md.; (301) 231-2310; cityperch.com
Photos courtesy City Perch