Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Porch: New American Food

It's recruiting time at work and as a result I had the pleasure of taking a few of our candidates for dinner at The Porch earlier this week. The Porch is located on Henderson Avenue just east of Central and serves updated comfort food dishes in a neighborhood bar type atmosphere. The bar is always inventing new cocktails based on seasonal items, so if you decide to come here for dinner, get there a little early and grab a drink. Last fall I tried their Hatch Chile Martini and was compelled by the combination of spicy chile, sweet lime and tequila. 

Now back to dinner. We decided to start off the meal with a couple of appetizers since we were all hungry. The Spinach Parmesan dip is served with fresh tortilla chips and is divine. I found that it was the appropriate balance of spinach and cheese and while certainly rich, it's not as heavy as many spinach dips can be. Our other appetizer was the Calamari and Rock Shrimp Fritto Misto which was served with sweet peppers and a lemon aioli sauce for dipping. The peppers had a slight bite and were a nice contrast to the sweetness of the aioli. It was a great start to things.

Every evening the chef decides what specials will be offered that day and they are displayed on a large backboard and referred to as "Big Board Specials". That night one of the Big Board offerings was Chicken Meatballs with Ricotta Gnocchi and Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce. I'll be honest, I was a little disappointed in the result. I have come to really enjoy chicken meatballs at other restaurants, and I found these to be dry, slightly tough and without a lot of flavor. The mushrooms didn't provide much flavor either, which was disappointing as I usually find mushrooms to be a great addition to any pasta with cream sauce. Finally, I guess I'm just an old fashioned potato gnocchi girl because I found the ricotta gnocchi to be too sweet and with a texture that was not to my liking. I don't think I would recommend this plate, it was too rich and lacked flavor all at once, which is hard to do.

My coworker ordered the brisket enchiladas and I must say they looked divine. Their appearance along with the fact that he cleaned his plate confirm that they were quite delicious. The brisket is finely shredded, wrapped in a corn tortilla and topped with red chile enchilada sauce. They definitely looked as though they would be worth trying next time. One of our recruits ordered the Country Club with the Tomato, Cucumber and Basil salad and it too looked amazing. The sandwich was served on hearty slices of white bread, perfectly toasted and filled with the delicious combination of smoked turkey, smoked ham, thick peppered bacon, cheddar, and provolone and the salad looked crisp and refreshing, a nice delicate contrast to the hearty sandwich. Our other recruit ordered the cheeseburger and it too looked delicious. At the conclusion of the meal I asked my companions for their verdict and all were pleased to confirm that they thoroughly enjoyed their meal. I guess I just made the wrong choice this time.

While parts of this most recent experience were disappointing, the atmosphere continued to impress and the service was impeccable. Based on what my dinner companions ordered, I think I will definitely try one of their choices next time and I'm confident I won't be disappointed and besides, there's always their cocktail menu. :)

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