front porch meal, new chef
last wednesday i decided to join a couple friends for dinner at the front porch, since i had heard that they have a new chef, michael law.
our server confirmed the information, and said the new chef was from louisiana, and that the food was "less bajan, more cajun," or something like that. the menu does seem to lean in that direction more than before.
it is not always wise to order food when you are both a) starving and b) completely drunk. in our case, 3 of the 4 items we ordered were battered and deep fried foods. we started with oyster beignets, which were crunchy and still juicy and plump inside. they came on little rounds of bread pudding, which tasted like stuffing. they were topped with slivers of tasso in a rich sauce. then we ordered fried okra at my insistence. it was crunchy and well cooked. the fried chicken can still be ordered in a bucket, but it was a smaller popcorn bucket, and didn't have that KFC fried chicken bucket effect from before. which was fine except that there was actual popcorn in the bucket, and stuck to the chicken as well. not much, but annoying to pry off the chicken. a silly gimmick. it tasted good though, maybe better than before, but it's been some time since my last meal here. and i've hardly gone a comprehensive survey of fried chicken in san francisco. but it was well seasoned, maybe a bit too salty for some people, but not for me. the batter was crunchy, and seemed to have a bit of cornmeal mixed in.
only non-fried item ordered: shrimp n' grits. this was a strange dish. it tasted fine but the shrimp had a strong hit of ginger. the mushrooms used were shimeji mushrooms, so there was a strong asian feel to this low country staple. the shrimp were also peeled, but with heads-on. i've seen them peeled, i've seen them unpeeled with heads-on, but never peeled with head still on. it just looked odd. but the heads, in that bacony, gingery sauce, still tasted good when sucked on.
verdict? tasty food, but our bad judgement did us in with all that fried food. the chicken is good, but the popcorn has just got to go. the oyster beignets were my favorite item. it's still super crowded and loud, but the service is friendly.
The Front Porch
65 29th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Good news! Believe I can report a serious uphill alert since the change of chef. (I admit, I wasn't a huge fan of the Front Porch in its previous incarnation--everything was too fried for me, not fresh enough for the price.)
The new menu is much more interesting with some good use of seasonal and local produce. Two amuse-bouches sent out: lightly pickled beet on soft goat cheese toasts; these came at the same time as two spicy lady finger shaped cornbreads (you'd want to ask for more if you were really hungry). Grilled oysters were outstanding: juicy, sweet, fresh, simple with a little lemon over them. We also tried an asparagus appetizer with a perfectly poached egg, crispy bits of bacon and terrific thick, not curdling, hollandaise. The best thing of all was my entree, which had very interesting contrasts of texture and flavour. A lightly spiced and salted piece of catfish, on top of warm succotash salad, with two spicy sauces (one more like a pesto, one a red pepper sauce on the side), and, best of all, a very fluffy, creamy crab beignet, like a little sweet fishy doughnut. Excellent! My DC ordered the rabbit with a piquant sauce on dirty rice (was pleased to see this after inquiring about rabbit last week). I didn't get to try very much, but he liked it. The meat was tender. The burgers being ordered by many surrounding tables also looked good, but I didn't try.