By Tucker Harris EBS STAFF
A platter full of colorful, fresh vegetables, falafel and sauces apears too beautiful to ruin with my large appetite. The sun is shining through the second-story window at The Independent, further highlighting the selection of bites. The phone eats first, they say, and the Med Platter is the perfect plate photo opportunity.
Perch, the new restaurant on the second floor of The Independent officially opens today, May 18 for service from 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.
With a local and healthy Mediterranean-inspired menu curated by Ousel and Spur’s Jen Ketteridge and Head Chef Alec Storer, Perch will offer quick, refreshing appetizers and meals for passersby through Town Center, movie attendees and guests of the many events curated daily at The Independent, which General Manager Ruth White calls “community hub for entertainment.”
Jen Ketteridge from Ousel and Spur Pizza Co. has partnered with Ruth White, general manager at The Independent, to expand her culinary operations upstairs from the pizza and pasta restaurant.
“Mediterranean food is naturally gluten free and vegan so it hits those people that can’t have those options downstairs at a pizza shop,” Ketteridge explains.
Mediterranean was an easy choice for Ketteridge. “I love this food,” she says as I dive into the rainbow platter full of rich flavors. “I think anything driven with lots of herbs creates just really good flavors. The food speaks for itself: It’s nothing’s really fully processed, everything’s made from scratch and it’s so good.”
The foundation of the menu was aimed at offering something different, new and diet-friendly this summer in Big Sky, Ketteridge said. After the warmer months pass, she said they may look to heavier and warmer food options.
White and her team at The Independent will be running the upstairs bar. The bar’s summer season theme will be “citrus,” while highlighting a tropical mountain flare, according to Zachary Lowenstein, co-head bartender for The Independent.
Lowenstein served me a delicious citrus-heavy cocktail that looked as appetizing as it tasted. The Silver Monk features tequila, yellow chartreuse, lime, cucumber and mint—refreshing on a hot summer day. Another specialty cocktail, Shipwrecked in Montana, is made with dark rum, lillet (a fortified white wine, he informed me), lime, lavender syrup and oregat served in a large Tiki glass and topped with a tiny tropical umbrella.
“Downstairs is a little more like classic bar in a sense that it’s what people are used to—focusing on the classics and with Montana twists,” White said. “Up here, it’s always going to be our place to be a little more inventive and creative. So, if you want to step out of your comfort zone, I suggest you come to the bar upstairs.”
The upstairs bar will rotate themes each summer and winter season.
All food orders can be placed at either of the bars or at the register upstairs. Cuisine is served on packaged-to-travel trays with disposable cutlery for convenience as patrons move about the different areas and offerings at The Independent.
The name “Perch” was inspired by the restaurant’s location that includes some of the best restaurant views in Town Center looking out over Yellow Mountain and the Spanish Peaks.
“We’re perched up here on the second level,” Ketteridge said. “[The name] brings in the Ousel bird logo which kind of notates that we’re connected.”
The menu offers a wide range of food options including spicy lemon and cilantro shrimp skewers, quinoa tabbouleh packed with parsley and mint flavors, crispy garlic fries served with harissa ketchup, a yogurt-marinated chicken entrée, and Ketteridge’s favorite: a local 406 beef burger with harissa ketchup and a toum-toasted bun to pull in Mediterranean flavors.
In mid-June, The Independent will be expanding once more, offering patio seating and a walkup bar outside. Guests can order local beer and wines, as well as a special frosé and frozen huckleberry lemonade to keep cool in the summer months. Food orders must be placed inside but you can bring it outside to the patio to enjoy in the sunshine.
Visit theindependentmt.com/dining for more information.