Having been born and raised in Tennessee (and missing being home for the holidays), I was pretty excited to try The Porch.Driving up to the midtown Sacramento restaurant, I was pleased to note that the The Porch actually had a porch area in front and was reminiscent of a number of restaurants in the south. However, upon entering the restaurant itself, the consensus was the nondescript contemporary design was lacking in any sort of real southern charm (even despite the holiday decor).
Described as "low-country southern with a California twist," The Porch menus are subject to change daily based on seasonal availability of the products. Many items are locally sourced while the restaurant notes exceptions like Soft shell crabs from Handy Crab, Salisbury, MD and Bristol brand scallops, Portland, ME. As someone who generally prefers trying a variety of starters/sides/desserts to a single large entree, I happily perused the menu of over a dozen starters/salads and even more sides to share.
We started with the skillet cornbread (which was good but made great with the addition of green tomato jam and jalapeno honey butter) and also shared "Tuscaloosa" Style Fried Green Tomatoes (served over shredded romaine and "Memphis" dressing and topped with a beautiful piece of apple wood bacon). For entrees, my mother-in-law and I ordered half-portions of The Porch Salad and the Fried Chicken Salad respectively which were both huge for half-portions. The fried chicken in my salad was moist and perfectly crispy but there was nothing distinctively "Memphis" about the dressing (which looked just like thousand island) - having lived in Memphis for 18 years, I think I'm qualified to say that.
In terms of sides, the mashed potatoes and cheddar grits were both wonderfully creamy in consistency but lacked just a bit in flavor (and the grits could have used twice the amount of cheese). The buttermilk biscuits were also good, but again, made better by the addition of jalapeno honey butter. I didn't try the sweet potato fries myself but they looked perfectly crispy on the outside.
Though we were all already full, we couldn't resist ordered a few desserts at the end of the meal. The apple pie served with a cinnamon bourbon sauce was delicious, the skillet cookie was made to order and topped with fresh strawberries and chocolate syrup, but perhaps the most decadent of all was the red velvet brownie, topped with no less than 2 inches of cream cheese icing and served with red velvet ice cream.
Also worth noting is The Porch's fairly extensive handcrafted cocktail list - our server recommended I try the Green in Heart (Plymouth gin, St. Germain, Green Chartreuse, rosemary lavender simple syrup, lime juice and fresh cucumber) which was delicious - even for someone who doesn't typically love gin.
Overall I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could - the food is good, the portions are huge and appropriately priced - I just wanted more southern flavor.
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