Members-only club and workspace the Wing and its cafe the Perch are opening today in Fulton Market. The co-working space and cafe, best known for its feminist ethos and impeccably styled spaces, currently operates in New York City, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. This year, openings are scheduled in Chicago, Boston, West Hollywood, and London. The brainchild of culinary and beverage director Dani Dillon, the Perch menu differs across its branches, featuring location-based exclusives contributed by noted women chefs.
Dillon said the Perch offerings are “intentional, thoughtful, and personal.” Most dishes are named for the chef who created them, Dillon said, imbuing them with a sense of ownership to create the food they want and push the boundaries of what women are “supposed” to eat, especially at work.
The menu at 811 W. Fulton Market is composed of multicultural lunch fare, including Diana Dávila’s ensalada de nopales with raw cactus, burrata, and cured tomato, and “Fridaus,” a dish of sweet potato vermicelli, collard greens, peppers, and orange tamari ponzu by Q. Ibraheem. Ten percent of profits from Ibraheem’s dish go to Silver Fork, a culinary and job training program for adults facilitated by Chicago LGBTQ community organization Center on Halsted.
Dillon said she put careful thought into selecting her Chicago collaborators and took issues of visibility and access, particularly regarding women of color, into account. She ultimately came up with a list of hard-hitting Chicago chefs and proprietors: Sarah Grueneberg of essential Italian restaurant Monteverde, Eater 38 Fat Rice’s Adrienne Lo, Q. Ibraheem of underground dining series Teertsemasesottehg, Eater Chicago’s 2017 chef of the year Diana Dávila of Mi Tocaya Antojería, Erin Carlman-Weber of All Together Now, Anna Posey of Michelin-starred Elske, and Pretty Cool Ice Cream’s Dana Cree. Lost Lake’s Shelby Allison and Carley Gaskin of Hospitality 201 contributed drinks to the beverage list.
Divided into many subsections, the menu includes light snacks, a selection of savory toasts, and egg dishes with pithy names like “True Grits” (poached eggs with grits, roasted mushrooms, parmesan, and greens) and “Fork the Patriarchy,” (freekah, greens, avocado, and poached eggs with aji verde, a Peruvian green sauce). The “Witches,” (sandwiches) section provides elevated takes on lunchtime classics, all on bread from Lincoln Park’s Floriole Cafe & Bakery. Sandwiches include the Wing BLT with smoked bacon, lettuce, and tomato on seeded Floriole bread, and the “Vegan But Make It Fashion” with roasted vegetables, hummus, and fresh spinach. Cree’s sweet “Wing Pop” is another Chicago exclusive, made with matcha custard and a strawberry dip.
All Perch beverages besides beer and wine contain little-to-no alcohol, a restriction that Dillon saw as an opportunity. “Creative guidelines like that often create the best work,” she said. One of the Wing’s co-founders doesn’t drink alcohol and they have a number of pregnant and nursing members, according to Dillon, so this choice offers them more options. Non-alcoholic drinks include the “Laura Palmer,” an ode to the iconic Twin Peaks femme fatale with hibiscus iced tea and lemonade, and small-batch kombucha (fermented tea) from Ohio-based Boochy Mama.
The Perch does have a wine list and limited beer options, and Dillon said there is potential to launch a full bar program. Low-ABV Chicago exclusives include Allison’s “Shell Beach” with Fino sherry, Cocchi Americano, and pineapple-infused Cappelletti and Gaskin’s “Polarities” with vermouth, coffee-infused sherry, and passion fruit cordial.
In the kitchen, Dillon said she is working to establish a new normal, free of the sexism and harassment that many women chefs and cooks experience. She hopes to help employees recognize their own capabilities in a positive environment and set them on the path to a long and successful careers.
The Perch opens today in Fulton Market. Take a look at the menu below.
The Wing, 811 W. Fulton Market, open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.