Midnight Snack: Perch with Salli Saffioti

Photos by Amy TierneyEver since downtown's growth spurt, retro-chic lounges with just enough elbow room have sprung up all over the place. The latest, Perch, opens its elevator doors and take you up thirteen floors through the Pershing Building and then yet another two more flights. Sitting in a high seat above the City of Angels, Perch offers the mindless mobs of hipsters and the downtown suits a bird's eye view of the city, oversized comfy couches, freshly crafted drinks, and a lengthy wine list. The menu is French-inspired and it fits into a theme of Parisian nightlife, circa 1920s. To prove the popularity of this rooftop bistro, postcards propped up with "reservations highly recommended" at reception will greet you before the hostess.

Over a couple glasses of wine, we get to know how Perch became a new favorite for Salli Saffioti, the woman behind a million voices, from Ingrid Hunnigan of the "Resident Evil" franchise to various roles in "Gears of War," as well as other other titles both gamers and comic book geeks get giddy over. Sitting at the bar, Salli talks about "Resident Evil" and her on-camera role of Annie Liebovitz in "Watchmen." Over the course of a few hours we discover it's not necessarily the food at Perch, but a sublime je ne sais quoi, that draws Salli and droves of other Angelenos to this downtown hangout.

Emese: So why Perch?
Salli: The last time I came here it was for my birthday. I was looking for a new perspective in life and it just seemed right. Then when you and I started talking about "Resident Evil," I thought of this place and it reminded me of Ingrid Hunnigan's character. She's the one who steps back and sees the big picture.

Emese: She has a bird's eye view much like this place does.
Salli: Exactly. And it also reminds me of home -- New York.

Emese: How so?
Salli: It sorta reminds me of a mini-Empire State Building. You have to get off a bank of elevators and then get on another elevator. Once you get to the top, the view is awesome.

Emese: Only this place has a 13th floor. It goes well with the mystique of Resident Evil, the Zombie Apocalypse, and all this 2012 Mayan Calendar hype.
Salli: Yeah, it kinda does. Have you decided on what to have?

Emese: Since they don't have brains the menu, I'll try the Buffalo Frog Legs.
Salli: I've never had frog legs before.

Emese: They're tasty. They're a cross between fish and chicken--you can say it tastes like ficken.
Salli: Um, I'll stick with the Cheese and the Charcuterie plate.

Emese: What was it like celebrating your birthday here?
Salli: Ahh-mazing. You could see the mountains from our table on the patio. It was me and 13 guests.

Emese: There goes that number 13 again.
Salli: There was a lot of great energy. The Kings had won the Stanley Cup that night.

Emese: Nice birthday present. Cheers to a new perspective for LA puckheads and to you.
Salli: Cheers!

Emese: How's the wine?
Salli: This Malbec is great. How are the frog legs?

Emese: Perfectly spicy. Just the right amount of heat. Wanna try one?
Salli: Nah, but help yourself to some of this cheese.

Emese: Is there goat cheese on there?
Salli: No, just blue cheese, gruyere, and this one's really good. Try it.

Emese: So tell me more about Ingrid Hunnigan.
Salli: She's like the CTU on "24." She reports to the gamer everything that's going on. She gives them direction like don't turn right or you'll get eaten by zombies. And if they get hit, she's the first person they make contact with.

Emese: The video game releases October 2nd. Any spoilers you can share?
Salli: All I'm allowed to say is it'll be unlike anything you've ever seen before. Things were being done at a whole new level.

Emese: They're releasing a 3D film in September.
Salli: I can't say...
Emese: Right. Or else Umbrella Corp will kidnap and brainwash you.

Emese: I think they forgot the charcuterie plate.
Salli: They also forgot to seat those reserved tables. I can't believe no one has sat in them since we got here.

Emese: They could've sat us at the table and had us be Professional Seat Warmers. Sold it as ad space to Mercedes or Audi and made even more of a killing tonight.
Salli: It's okay. I'm starting to get full. I think it's still a good mojo place.

Emese: True, and good for people watching. Just like Comic-Con.
Salli: Unfortunately, I've never been. As a single mom to a toddler, it's hard for me to get away.

Emese: If you did, would you dress up?
Salli: I'm not one of those dress-up types, but I did go to Fashion School. If I had to, I guess I'd dress up like a badass chick, maybe Starbuck from "Battlestar Galactica." She's my prototype for this web comic book series I'm doing right now.

Emese: Cool. Can you talk about that?
Salli: It's the first-ever web comic book series. That's never been done before.

Emese: What about "Watchmen?" What was it like playing Annie Leibovitz?
Salli: It was one of the best experiences of my life.

Emese: Do tell.
Salli: I got to work with Zach Snyder, who is the nicest guy, the best director. He made me feel like I was the star of the show, even though I had a blip of a part in the movie.

Emese: How did you feel about playing the iconic photographer?
Salli: Loved it! First off, everyone at the audition looked like Annie--tall, blonde, frizzy hair. They didn't have a script so it was just me, the casting director, and his assistant in front of a video camera. I knew Annie always wore these glasses so I put them on and she just interviewed me--as me. To see how I was. Let me tell you, I was shocked they gave me the part. They had me go to fitting after fitting to one of the top wig makers in the world. You wouldn't have recognized me.

Emese: Wow, It's 10pm on a school night and this place is packed.
Salli: It's crazy in here. A whole different crowd than when we first got here.

Emese: They're like a mob of zombies ready to chew through us just to get closer to the bartender.
Salli: I am so guarding my wine.

Emese: Good idea. Okay, so with all this Mayan Calendar and Zombie Apocalypse talk and Resident Evil looming in the air. Whose side would you be on--Mayans, Zombies, Umbrella Corp? And no, you can't pick humanity, that's an obvious choice.
Salli: Aww! I'd probably have to go for the Mayans.

Emese: Is it because of their swath-y clothing?
Salli: Duh, I'm a fashionista. Remember, I did go to fashion school.

Emese: In that case, got any predictions for 2012? You know, with the 2012 Mayan prophecy and all.
Salli: I think we'll all be fine. And I think 2013 is going to be our year.

Emese: Just for fun and a pre-celebration, let's make reservations here for December 21, 2012.
Salli: Yes, let's do it!

Perch
448 South Hill St., 213-802-1770

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