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Apr 2, 2007 10:04 AM

The Front Porch: report [San Francisco]

On Saturday a friend and I stopped by The Front Porch for an early dinner. We chose TFP because they don't accept reservations for a small party--though I've been here before and prefer Range as my neighborhood go-to restaurant, it was 6 p.m. on a Saturday and we were both too hungry to wait.

We split a special appetizer of fried okra, a single order of fried chicken, and a side dish of brussels sprouts. Though hungry, we wanted to maintain our girlish figures, and as most of the menu items were fairly heavy or fried, splitting (fried chicken!) seemed a reasonable compromise.

The fried okra, which arrived with a spicy mayonnaise-y dipping sauce, was good, but after a couple of bites my palate tired of the flavor. I was glad we split this. Our fried chicken arrived alongside black eyed peas and grits. The chicken was good, but not the best I've ever had. To me, the crust is too thin--I don't like that it shatters into dust at each bite. I enjoyed the grits, a perfect portion compared to the too-rich crab, butter and grit porridge I tried here.

The sprouts arrived after the chicken was cleared, which was unplanned but ended up being perfect. Roasted and coated in a molasses-chili sauce, this was the best sprout preparation I've ever had. Neither my friend nor I noticed this dish, but the server convinced us to order it, and we're glad she did. The sprouts would have been the perfect ending to our meal...had we not seen the red velvet cake ordered by the table next to us.

"One bite," we said.

"One bite," we swore to the server, who urged us to try the cake. My friend took one bite of the moist, rich cake and dollop of ginger cream and said, "We're screwed. It's over." It was a battle of the forks to scrape the last crumbs off the plate.

Casual, friendly service matches with the decor. I hate the word "funky," but it's appropriate for this space, with rocking chairs hanging from the ceiling and car backseats as benches along the wall.

$60 and 3,000 calories later, we had a lovely meal, and I would certainly return.

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  1. I'm not sure, but this appears to be the latest review for Front Porch....

    I had my first dinner at Front Porch last night (i'd previously only stopped by for a fried chicken sandwich at lunch, a few years ago.)

    i love the ambiance here. dark and bar-like, yet homey; there were families eating at the bar with little kidlets.

    service was warm and friendly. there were definite waiting gaps between courses, but we didn't mind. i was surprised at how busy they were on a holiday at 6 p.m. it seems to be a very neighborhood place.

    we had: the wedge salad, bacon and jalapeno deviled eggs, the Shrimp and Grits, and the Dr. Pepper braised short ribs with pureed celeriac and horseradish.

    i started with a great cocktail - which i'm now forgetting the name of - but it had gin, st. germain, and grapefruit bitters. really nice, tart, not too sweet.

    as an amuse, they served us two little deliciously sweet and warm mini corn muffins with an herbed butter. really good.

    next came the eggs. only problem with these is that they were too cold - they should have let them come to room temp before plating. i liked that the bacon was minced into the egg yellows themselves, as well as there being a nice crunchy piece on top.

    wedge salad was great, with outstanding sweet pickled beets that had a hint of allspice on them. i'd definitely get that salad again.

    the BF's short ribs had wonderful flavor, but the only bite i had was a bit dry and stringy. he said not all bites were like that, and he enjoyed his dinner - especially the celeriac. he said he'd order the dish again.

    my shrimp and grits - the reason we came here last night, really, as S&G is the current SF/Bay Area DOTM - was superbly flavored. red eye gravy with Andouille sausage slices gave the dish so much intensity - i had to stop and linger after each bite. the grits themselves were super creamy and luscious - i do not have a ton of experience with this dish, but these were my favorite rendition (full disclosure: this is my 5th time ever). the only problem was with the shrimp. they were overcooked, and became more so after sitting in the hot grits. there were a lot of shrimp - i think at least 8 - so it took me a while to get to all of them, and they got mushier and mushier. i saw it happen, too - i could watch the chef from where we were sitting and she just left them in the pan too long and so had to hastily dump them onto the grits, hoping she had salvaged them. alas, not. but i would still get this dish again, here.

    we spent $80, with the cocktail, a beer for the BF, and a glass of wine for me. we will certainly return.

    afterwards, we wandered across the street to Rock Bar, which we found out is owned by Front Porch - and you can get their food served to you there! the bar has little tables, a pool table, and from what i could see, a mixology program - infusions, syrups and tinctures were in evidence. happy happenstance. i love eating really good food in a bar.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mariacarmen

      Thanks for the great post and for the info on the Rock Bar. I live in the neighborhood and have been to the Front Porch a few times. I haven't made it to the Rock Bar yet, but now you have made me want to check it out!

      1. re: TracyKaplan

        Rock Bar is a funny beast. Minimally decorated, has a nice selection of seasonal cocktails and some sour ales. Also has a fair number of locals more likely to be drinking Schlitz or Tecate. We like it, as it's local for us, but it is small and can get loud when busy, so set your expectations accordingly.

        1. re: Calvinist

          I've also found that the cocktails are inconsistent. I've had both very good and mediocre Manhattans.
          That said, it is my top neighborhood bar.

          1. re: Calvinist

            thanks for the info. we're likely to not drink fancy cocktails either, and to be honest, their prices on a tanqueray and tonic, and a cazadores (no cuervo) double shot were too high for us to be regulars. it looks like it's trying to be a dive bar, but isn't really. but we'd definitely indulge to have an occasional dinner there.

            plus, we were told that someday their might be a donkey on site!! total draw for me.