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The Front Porch Opens -- (long)

The Front Porch (29th between Mission and San Jose in the outer Mission) opened tonight...and by 6:45 every seat in the house was occupied. I guess even with Emmy's Spaghetti Shack and Blue Plate right around the corner, there is still room in my neighborhood for more inventive American food (yay for me).

A tad less expensive than its aforementioned neighbors, The Front Porch is cozy and relaxed with a distinctly funky vibe and a potentially high noise factor. Tonight, the overall energy of the room was very happy and positive. The menu is very very interesting. Service was friendly and genuine.

It's worth noting that they have a small but thorough wine list, several bottled beers, several draught beers, and a cask barleywine. After we ordered drinks, we were given two warm cornbread ladyfingers with a jalapeno butter (yum).

We started with Chicken Liver Pate bruschetta with mango chutney, and a Cherokee tomato salad with pickled wax beans, carrots, golden beets, mache and a creole mayo (or maybe it was Cajun?). The pate did have a metallic aroma, but it was nice with the chutney and the bread was toasted perfectly. It was well-constructed. The tomato salad was great -- surprisingly piquant, so I would avoid it if you're looking for a pure tomato experience.

For entrees, we enjoyed:
Fish and chips: fries were very lightly done, not to my liking. But the potatoes were fresh and sweet. The batter on the fish was crumbly and not doughy. The fish itself was juicy and flavorful. Malt vinegar was provided without asking.

Grits, crab and sweet corn porridge: WOW this dish was exceptional. Prepared with habanero and green onion, it managed to be hearty, intriguing, and refreshing all at the same time. Really innovative. If you love risotto and/or grits, order this.

The dessert list was "short and sweet" as our charming waitress told us. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting, apple crisp, and an interesting-sounding peach thing with pistachios and dried currants. We ordered the yellow cake, in part because our server informed us that it's baked by a neighborhood lady who is trying to put her daughter through college. But even without the good karma points, the cake was worth ordering. A blast from the past, it was satisfying, simple and moist.

I hate to gush so much about a brand-spanking new place, but it is definitely worth checking out. I am tempted to try to keep it a secret, but that seems futile and a bit selfish. Good food must be shared!!!

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  1. hi absonot, i went to the front porch last night, too. i didn't know it was their opening night, and by the looks of the crowd, holy moly they are hopefully going to do great. i had the crab porridge also, and my toes were tapping. of course, patience was needed, seeing how it was their first night, they will need some time to work out kitchen flow. i think they were surpised about how many people showed up, which i think is a great problem to have. good luck front porch, welcome to the neighborhood!

    1. Yeah, it was a bit slow -- but I was hesitant to mention that since it was their first night. And they did offer to get us a free round of drinks to thank us for waiting. I've been at places where I've had to wait much longer for worse food and no such offer was made.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Absonot

        Most new restaurants assume business will be slow at first and pick up slowly. When a place is packed from day one, often that will mean they're understaffed and thus slow.

        You can't really judge a place's service until it's been open for a month or two as they often need to adjust staff levels to match demand, which may mean new hires.

      2. Anyone have a phone number?

        1 Reply
        1. Went there with a group last night. Many of us ordered and enjoyed the fried chicken. The meat was amazingly juicy and piping hot; the coating thick, well-spiced, and not at all greasy. You get a choice of side dishes; I enjoyed the black-eyed peas + collard greens and a thoroughly grilled ear of corn.

          The aforementioned yellow cake was terrific; moist, buttery, and with a balanced, sweet chocolate frosting. Just like your idealized grandmother's cake.

          The apple crisp dessert was unusual, highly spiced with fresh nutmeg. It's more of a savory dessert than sweet. Some of us loved it, others thought it tasted too savory.

          Good prices, great music (bluegrass early; louder stuff as the night wore on and the lights went down); toddler-friendly early in the evening. Overall, a great addition to the neighborhood.

            1. Two of us went to Front Porch last night. We shared the fried chicken livers with onion sauce on toast -- excellent. I had the fish & chips (should have done something else; fried-food overdose). But the fish was very good, tender with a nice crumbly coating. However, it was so hot I had to remove my first bite into my napkin. They turn the lights down quite low and I guess I couldn't see the steam emanate from it when I cut into it. The fries were well done, unlike Absonot's. Love the homemade ketchup. My friend had the crab porridge which was delicious, though the portion was so small he asked the waitress if it was an entree or an appetizer.

              Dessert was tempting, especially the yellow cake, but we were just too full. Service was on the slow side as mentioned, but everything came out (obviously) piping hot. Oh, and they brought out an amuse of boquerones with celery and peppers, which was nice.

              $50 including tip and two beers? Great value. I'd definitely return, and would be a regular if I lived in the 'hood.

              1. Finally reporting on that visit... The fried chicken, well I'm not from the South but I was wowed, the meat was so tender and juicy, the coating crisp and tasty. The accompanying corn bread was very nice but the collards and black-eyed peas were missing a vinegar kick. My friend's grits and crab porridge was the thing I can't wait to go back for. Very unusual, very tasty. The green salad, a lovely plate of little gem lettuces, looked like a nice way to start.

                I was underwhelmed by desserts, not being much of a fan of homey cake or apple crisp, but hopefully other items will be added. The short wine and beer list is thoughtfully assembled and the service was surprisingly smooth given it was Night 2.

                Overall this place is a great addition to the neighborhood and I'm looking forward to a return visit.

                1. Stopped by for brunch (or "linner" as they call it) yesterday around noon. The menu is the same as the dinner, although they added an excellent-sounding egg dish with salt cod and a couple of brunchy beverages, including a DELICIOUS peach sangria.

                  Gave in to the fried chicken lure, and was very happy -- thigh and leg, juicy and flavorful. Perfect. Burger was also very tasty (almost seems like there are herbs/spices in the ground meat, although I only got one bite) and the fries were super duper crispy this time.

                  I'd like to just say that the people who work/run this place are incredibly genuine and welcoming. Love having them so close to where I live!

                  1. I had dinner at the Front Porch last night, and was very happy with my meal. Two of us shared the deep fried chicken livers and the ceviche for appetizers, the fried chicken and dungeness crab porridge for main courses, and the wine pickled peaches for dessert. By the way, the menu posted above from menupages is pretty close to the current one, I only noticed a couple of small changes.

                    We happened to sit next to former Chowhound regular Victoria Libin and her party. They were one course ahead of us in their meal, so we were able to get ordering advice from them on appetizers and desserts. I already had decided going in that we'd have the fried chicken and the crab dish for entrees based on the chowhound reviews. The best advice Victoria gave us was to request the special Habanero sauce, as unfortunately it's not automatically put on your table. It reminds me a bit of that great habanero sauce you can request at Fonda's in Albany, though it's not quite as spicy nor tangy, and is sweeter. It was a great accompaniment for every savory dish.

                    We didn't get an amuse to begin with, but they did bring out two of those delicious cornbread ladyfingers with a honeyed butter. I could have eaten quite a few of those if given the chance! My favorite dish was the crab, and the fried chicken livers were my dining companion's favorite. I really liked the ceviche, especially once I found out about the habanero sauce and added some along the way. The fried chicken came in a thick cornmeal batter that was tasty and not too greasy, and the chicken was very moist, but I was not wowed. I'm not a big fan of fried chicken in general, and haven't had much southern style ones. My favorite fried chicken is still the one at Shin Toe Bul Yi, the Korean place on Tarraval (thanks in part to the picked daikon that comes alongside).

                    The wine list was small and fairly well priced, but nothing particularly stood out for me. If I had to pick a wine from the list, it would have been either the Spanish Verdejo or the 2003 Chablis (I like Chablis, but am not a fan of the 03 vintage in Europe, especially for whites). Instead, we had the 2002 Domaine Auvigue Macon-Villages that I had brought (corkage is $10, and they wave one fee for every bottle you purchase from the list). It was a very nice match for the food, I wish I still had more of it in my cellar!

                    1. I must say that I was disappointed about the inconsistency at this place. My wife and I ordered the heirloom tomato salad and the tuna appetizer. Both were exceptional. We also ordered the cheeseburger (something I assumed any restaurant of this caliber could pull off) and a side of sweet corn. Unfortunately, the cheeseburger was literally inedible. The beef was cooked well when medium was requested, was about 50% of the surface area of the bun, and topped with bacon that was cooked about 20 minutes too long. If you like bread, this is good option since the bun accounted for most of the meal. The corn was overly salted and basically burned through. (To add insult to injury, upon returning home the Food Network was televising the Build a Better Burger Contest up in Sonoma!!!) Hopefully, this was just a mistake of the kitchen. Still, beware of that saying the kitchen was inconsistent on our visit would be being polite.

                      1. i went to the front porch on thursday and had a great time. really really loved the crab grits but dining partner found it too rich for her constitution. ceviche was a bit disappointing - overwhelmingly spicy to the result of no other flavours being discernable. I can take my heat, no problem , but would have like it a little more balanced. Deep fried chicken livers with onion gravy on toasted brioche, a huge, tasty, hearty appetizer.
                        chicken - moist and succulent with a nice crust.
                        felt the grits benefitted from being paired (we split our mains) with the crispy chicken to add some textural contrasts to the meal.

                        all that food (+ complimentary cornbread) came to just $18 pp pre tip

                        + drank three thieves pinot for $9 a deuce (carafe)

                        all staff really freindly, great, relaxed, holiday-like atmosphere

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Sixy

                          Did you have a reservation and/or how long did you wait for a table? Just curious how popular it is now.

                        2. we arrived around 8pm [their busy time], there are no reservations for groups smaller than 5[?] and we waited at the bar probably just over 30 mins. They told us the wait would be 20 mins max but this was not the case. this doesn't bother me since i like to start with a drink and a chat and i am fairly laid back but my conversely friend gets impatient about these kinds of things and got a little anxious.

                          so depending on what type of person you are, the waiting for a table may or may not bother you.

                          you can sit on the front porch and wait too, with your drinks. They have a couple of tables there which gives it a nice easy vibe.

                          1. We had a good experience at The Front Porch. The place is already very popular. We were told that there would be a 10 minute wait at 6:15pm, but it was closer to 30 minutes. However, the host did check in with us, and our wait was rewarded with a comfy booth.

                            There was a nice vibe to the restaurant. The staff was friendly, and service was good. The chicken liver pate appetizer was excellent, and generously-sized. The fried chicken was well-prepared--crunchy outside, hot and tender inside, and flavorful. The vegan entree-- okra and plantains in a tomato-molasses sauce-- was flavorful, and enjoyed by my partner. Our friend's hamburger was a little overcooked, and his fries were soggy. A carafe of sangria was tasty, if a bit overpriced at $24.

                            Overall, we enjoyed the food, the service, and the atmosphere, and plan to return soon.

                            1. We went on Thursday right when they opened. We (2 adults and two children) ordered a bucket of chicken, 8 pieces which came with two sides. The chicken was delicious but the side order of corn was one half of one cob of corn and the cole slaw was about one tablespoon for each person. Were we supposed to take a bite of corn and pass it to the next person? Very strange.

                              1. I went last night...below is my yelp review.

                                3.5 stars. I love fried chicken. Not in the "I'm going to KFC for lunch" way but when the craving hits, there's no stopping me. So when I heard about The Front Porch I just had to give it a try. The food was pretty good-the chicken had a lot of flavor to the batter and was hot and crispy. If you go with a large party definitely split a bucket-9 pieces w/ 2 sides for $29 compared to 2 pieces w/1 side for $11 if you order individually.

                                Service was kind of scattered-our waitress was really friendly but mentioned to us a couple of times how slammed she was which I thought was weird. We asked how many pieces came with the side of corn and were told 2. Four of us wanted corn so we asked for 2 orders of it...when the waitress brought out the food she said she was mistaken and it was only 1 piece per order and only brought us 2 pieces. We went ahead and ordered 2 more pieces (because splitting corn on the cob just ain't happening) but it would have been a nice gesture on her part if she had just realized her mistake and brought out the extra 2 pieces initially.

                                Also, at this point they are only taking reservations for parties of 5 or greater...since we had 5 people we were able to get a reservation but were seated at a table for 4 with a chair stuck on the end. Not very comfy for 5 adults.

                                All told it was a fun night out-good food, decent prices, cool space (The Front Porch even has a cute little front porch) I'll probably be back but I'll give them some time to work the kinks out first."

                                1. Time for some dissent. We ate at the Front Porch last night, and generally found everything disappointing.

                                  We shared ceviche, blt salad, fried chicken, and fried fish. The batter on the fried chicken and fish is very heavy and overfried. It isn't a style I like, and it dominated the meat underneath.

                                  The blt salad had great bacon and tomatoes in it, but too much dressing, and it's hard to get excited about iceberg lettuce. The ceviche just confused me. There was hardly any fish in it, the fried plaintain(?) chips that came with it weren't anything special, and I ended up with a lot of cucumber and maybe mango in a glass. Lime might have helped. Really, more fish would have helped. Much better ceviche across the street at Inka's.

                                  The best thing was the fries, and there weren't very many of them. (Note to restaurants: potatoes are cheap!) I didn't eat the bowl of black eyed peas (I don't like beans) and would have preferred just a side of collard greens to go with all this fried food. The cole slaw had too much mayo for me.

                                  My companion drank a couple of St. Peter's ales, and I had a glass of sekt, which I found flat. Service is friendly enough. The manager asked about my glass of wine and then poured a different bottle of French sparkling wine for me to try. However our server later charged me for this glass, which annoyed us--it was meant as a good will gesture, and I felt awkward asking to have it removed.

                                  Total came to $76 including tip. We skipped dessert. This seems like a lot for food that we didn't like very much, and generally for the neighborhood. Two could eat at Goood Frikken Chicken, Inka's, or Lotus Garden for half as much.

                                  I suspect that if you like the food at Emmy's, you'll like The Front Porch.

                                  1. Is it cash only like Emmy's? I hope they've wised up . . .

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Atomica

                                      just an FYI, Emmy's takes cards now.

                                    2. Used a credit card here last night. I liked the food and loved the atmosphere. Loads of TLC.

                                      1. time for some more dissent.

                                        to say that my fiance and I were extremely excited about the opening of Front Porch would be an understatement. We live in the hood and love Emmys, so we figured this would be a wonderful new addition to the area. We thus decided to wait over an hour on friday night for a table. After an hour, when we seemed to be getting no closer to our goal, we managed to score some seats at the bar, where we decided to eat our whole meal.

                                        Now, we both have been waiters/bartenders in very busy places, so we make just about every excuse possible for bad service. And I know this is a new restaurant. BUT COME ON PEOPLE. we shouldn't have to wait 20 minutes to give our order to the bartender while she chats with friends and does little else, all while two feet away from us. I can honestly say that was the worst service I've ever gotten in my life. Inexcusable on a busy Friday night, even if you haven't worked out all the kinks yet.

                                        One more service note: the fries that were supposed to come with the burger we ordered did not come right away, but we were told when the burger came that they were "coming right up". 15 minutes later, when the burger was mostly done, still no fries. Finally we managed to get the bartender's attention (not an easy feat mind you) at which point she went and got us a plate of soggy fries, which she handed to us without apology, as if we were lucky to even get them at all. ugh.

                                        With all that said, I would have been happy to come back if the food was good. But unfortunately it was horrible. I'm amazed at the glowing reviews from fellow chowhounds, since I usually agree with most recommendations on here. I should have known from the start that it would be bad, since the free cornbread we got was pretty stale. The tomato salad couldn't be more boring, and too much mayo. The steak was mostly fat, and had this spicy rub on it that was just about being spicy, with little flavor. The side of corn was fine, but nothing special (certainly not as good as Blue Plate's side of corn). The fries, as I mentioned above, were soggy. And the only way I can describe the burger is "meh".

                                        oh- but the homemade pickle was good.

                                        overall, I would say that the meal was so bad that I don't think we'll go back. The best part about the place is the rocking chairs in the front- we did enjoy sitting out there after our meal while we finished our wine. A nice ending to a bad meal.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: evangross

                                          I don't get the Emmy's love. I live right around the corner from Emmy's and think it's pretty lousy overall. I'm excited to try the Front Porch because the menu appeals to me a lot more. Hope to go tomorrow night.

                                        2. I'm excited to try Front Porch as well. I found Emmy's literally inedible.

                                          1. We tried Front Porch tonight. We had several small children with us, and they were very accommodating and found room for us. I had the lobster grits, which were pretty good but extremely oversalted. Husband did not like his burger. He said, "They could at least toast the bun." It's bad when they don't toast the bun, I have to agree. I liked his fries (mixture of regular and sweet potatoes); he did not. I would have gotten the fried chicken, but playing baby wrangler means ordering something you can eat with one hand holding a fork or spoon. The complimentary corn fritters were pretty stale and I wasn't that pleased with the salt in the honey butter.

                                            Our waitress could not have been better. She was so nice and easygoing. I know I would not handle a bunch of small kids so nicely if I were doing her job.

                                            I really dislike the menu at Emmy's, where they're forever exploring flavor combinations that just do not work, rendered amateurishly. I'm more interested in the style of food served at Front Porch and probably will go back once in a while.

                                            The place is loud.

                                            1. I ate at Front Porch this weekend. We swung by on Friday night, but looked to be pretty packed. Showed up on Saturday at about 7:30 and only had to wait about 10 minutes for a table (just long enough for my dining companion to find parking!)

                                              Since everyone seems to be mentioning Emmy's in their reviews, let me preface this with a note that I found Emmy's utterly inedible.

                                              I had the wine in a box, my DC had the Prohibition Barley Wine. I had some- it was, indeed tasty! He was thrilled to see this on tap.

                                              We started with the Tuna Tartare and heirloom tomato appetizers. The tuna was a bit lacking in flavor, but we enjoyed the combination of flavors. The heirloom tomato app was very tasty, with delicious yellow beets. Neither of us are too keen on fried chicken livers (I, being a more adventurous eater than he, would have been happy to try them. The people behind us were raving about them!)

                                              For mains, he had the fried chicken and I had the Crab Grits. The fried chicken was absolutely heavenly! After finding the crust on the chicken at Farmer Brown far too dense and the meat overcooked, this chicken was, by comparison, light and flakey. Perfectly spices and brined in such a way that the flavor permeates the whole piece. Juicy. Just really fantastic. And the side dish of black eyed peas and greens had just enough of a kick. Knowing how some places seem to struggle with the peas and the greens, this was really fantastic. I found the crab and grits a bit TOO rich for my liking. The butter had separated when they brought it out to me and my DC commented to friends later that you could have sloshed the entire meal around in the bowl on the puddle of butter around it. I found the crab too limey and jarring next to the richness of the grits. I was expecting the two to meld a bit more. Once I ate the crab, though, both my DC and I enjoyed the grits as a super-rich side. Next time, I will be having the chicken!

                                              For dessert, we got the yellow cake and the apple crisp. I loved the apple crisp! I hate overly sweet desserts, and this was just perfect for me, with the main sweetness coming from the vanilla ice cream. I was pleased that the frosting on the yellow cake wasn't as sweet as some. Slightly bittersweet. My DC commented that the cake was just like the yellow cake his mom made from scratch.

                                              Certainly everything people have said about the service is 110% true. The crew at Front Porch go FAR above and beyond to make you feel welcomed. I especially liked that the host was writing down a description of me so that he would be able to come out and find me vs. just screaming my name out the front door like they do so many other places. He was in the process of noting generics like "blonde, black skirt" and then I pointed out that my shirt said "Boobs not Bombs" and he laughed because I guess it gets to be a challenge describing as many people as come through that place.

                                              We arrived just before a rush that lasted until about 8:30, then there was a bit of a lull, then another rush just as we were leaving. I think they are getting the flow down and the crazy-long waits are getting better.

                                              Now, if only they had a full bar!

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Chowsmurf

                                                just a note, i was asking the chef about the porridge, and there is no butter in that dish.

                                                1. re: potatoe

                                                  Then what is the extremely butter-like oil substance? I also had that dish and it was just as chowsmurf describes.

                                                  1. re: Atomica

                                                    i believe in your lobster (hee hee) grits is simply olive oil, lemon juice, habanero, ect...

                                                    1. re: potatoe

                                                      My grits were with crab (not lobster) and it tasted/looked like butter to me, definitely NOT olive oil. Oh and by the way it tasted fabulous and I just mixed it together as I ate it. Yum !

                                              2. Beware the carnivore special. It sounded great, a porridge of duck, pork cheek and beef brisket. Taste wise, it was "eh" none of the meat stood on its own, the sauce was cloying and uninteresting and the whole execution seemed amateurish. The real shock came with the bill - it was $17, or almost 50% higher than the most expensive dish on the menu. I know, ya gotta be wary when ordering the special and meat is expensive (though pork cheek and beef brisket are not exactly prime cuts) but when the focus of a place is low-mid price food you just don't expect those prices. I would have been OK with the tab if the dish was any good.

                                                This isn't a pan - I agree with others that the deep fried chicken livers and the fried chicken are excellent. And I know it's a bit unfair of me to write something negative just one month after opening. It's just a warning - stick with the fried chicken or the other dishes people have enjoyed, dishes with clearly marked prices. I think the key to this place is to go with three people and order the bucket.

                                                11 Replies
                                                1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                  Have you had the bucket of chicken? What did you think?

                                                  1. re: Frosty Melon

                                                    I did not try the bucket. I was impressed enough with my 2 piece to consider ordering it in the future. I eyed it on some other tables and I noticed that the breast was connected to the wing so that "counts" as one piece, not two. The sides that came with the bucket looked sparse, so I'd probably order a couple more.

                                                  2. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                    I really think these Emmy's people need to try their new, more intriguing dishes out on friends first before foisting them on the public at large. Emmy's turns out seemingly endless failed experiments that are total amateur hour. They could really improve their quality with this new place.

                                                    1. re: Atomica

                                                      These Emmy's comments keep coming up in this thread. Atomica, were you told that the folks who own Emmy's own Front Porch, too? That wasn't the impression I got from the owner. Would be interested to know...

                                                        1. re: Atomica

                                                          emmy has nothing to do with the front porch.

                                                          1. re: potatoe

                                                            former chef Sarah from Emmy's is the chef at Front Porch, right?????

                                                            1. re: dookiehed

                                                              Since she was executive chef at Emmy's for FIVE YEARS, I'd say there's a strong connection between the 2 places and how the menu will be created and food executed.

                                                          2. re: Atomica

                                                            Ah, the truly "ever-amicable" Kevin didn't mention that (he really is a welcoming presence). However, I didn't find that my experiences at Emmy's reminded me of Front Porch at all, or visa versa.

                                                      1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                        If you had the bucket, what sides came with it and in what portions?

                                                        I just can't quite bring myself to go order a bucket that is enough for three people if it will come with one half of a ear or corn!

                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                          Just wanted to add to the raves about the fried chicken here... My boyfriend and I had dinner here last night. We were seated right away arriving a little before 7, but the place was pretty full, and continued to fill up thru the night. I had the chicken which was moist, and well seasoned, not greasy! My favorite in SF so far and I've tried Farmer Brown's, Blue Jay Cafe and Powell's chicken. My boyfriend had the fish and chips which he liked as well. He said the fish didn't have a seasoned flavor but was moist. He really liked the cole slaw. We also shared the red bean coconut milk soup with avocado mash--- very tasty. It was a light soup, not chunky. The flavors were interesting together.

                                                          Fun night and good food when you're in the mood for southern food.