Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Front Porch

Around for awhile now, the Front Porch was completely off my radar until I found myself there for dinner with my dining companion, who had been primed for the fried chicken by several of his friends. Homey sounding, I thought, so I half expected American classics like meatloaf, fried chicken, and steak. Pleasantly surprised, I discovered as soon as I read the menu that the restaurant is homey in a road house, Southern kind of way. If my water didn't come served in a glass pint canning jar, it should have. It was that kind of place.

Dark and moody, is that what you were thinking, judging by this photo? It could have looked less so, but I rarely disturb other diners by using a flash in a restaurant. It so happens, The Front Porch is dark, so much so, I had to use the flash at the table as insurance that I'd get some of the food shots. Service was slower than a Southern drawl, but friendly, after initially being ignored by two waitresses.

Cornbread was good, baked in a cast iron pan, in keeping with the homey theme, but any home I've been to would have served more than one piece each. This seemed a bit miserly to someone who likes cornbread. The cornmeal fried oysters in the spinach salad were crispy on the outside and silky on the inside, a very delicious addition to an otherwise ordinary salad. I have to add that the julienned Chioggia beet was also a nice visual touch.

Fried chicken, collards and mashed potatoes; can we get any more Southern than that? I think not. Buttermilk seems to be the key ingredient in Southern fried chicken and since I also tried it at Pican in Oakland and liked it, I may become a convert. Technically, I preferred this particular version better because they didn't brine the chicken.
Best dish of the evening went to the spicy shrimp and grits. It was so good I would suffer through more slow service and having to use a flashlight to read the menu, all to be able to order this one again. The white grits were fantastic and upon inquiring I discovered that they use butter and creme fraiche to liven them up. The gravy on the shrimp was definitely hot, but that was toned down and easier on the palate with all the butter. Take out might not be a bad idea either.

Lip smackin' good. Since I had ordered the spinach salad on this occasion, I opted for the smaller $11 plate of shrimp, but next time the $18 entree size of this wonderful shrimp, onion, garlic, and mushroom slice of the South will be sitting in front of me.
65 29th Street
San Francisco CA 94110-4910
(415) 695-7800

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