Thursday, January 9, 2014

#DineDowntown Southern Style: The Porch

Did you resolve to eat out less often? Eat healthier? Blah, blah, blah........well you can start on January 18th! Why? Well, because it is the most wonderful time of the year! Not only is it MY birthday but it is also Dine Downtown Week! 10 days of awesomeness where several downtown Sacramento restaurants offer special $31 dollar menus to tempt you out into the cold. (the price went up a dollar this year for a good reason and a good cause: California Food Literacy so you can feel GOOD about going out to eat!)

This year I started my celebrating at The Porch Restaurant and Bar, a beautiful appropriately stylish but laid back Southern restaurant filled with mock windows giving the room an airy feel. Please note: the menu originally posted on the Dine Downtown site was wrong, though may have been updated since.
Because hubby and I were dining together, we were able to try almost every dish on the special menu. We did not try the Vegetable Pasta Plate but a gentleman at a nearby table did and seemed to be quite happy with his choice. From my vantage point, I would have been pleased and satisfied with the offering.
So, confession time.......I do not like beets.  Apparently I really liked them as a small child and must have eaten my share then because I tend to avoid them now. Well, The Porch's Fried Beet Salad is proof that everything is better deep fried! Add some Cara Cara oranges, Sierra Nevada Chevre, blueberries, and a citrus vinaigrette and you have a hit, even for beet unenthusiasts! The sweet soft cheese and vinaigrette meld together to make a wonderful sauce.
The Pork Belly Taco offered nice big juicy pieces of pork belly nestled on a little lettuce and tucked in with some fresh avocado and creme fraiche. I thought the crisping of the tortilla might make it a bit difficult to fold and eat, but the crispness was just enough to offer a contrast to the rich creaminess of the avocado and pork belly. And if you happen to have a little bit of tortilla leftover and dredged it through some of that cheesy citrus vinaigrette like my husband did, no one would blame you.........they'd probably be jealous!

For his entree, Hubby had the Compart Duroc Pork Tenderloin. See those little cubes at the bottom of the plate? They are bits of apple from the pecan, apple, onion relish. Pretty simply made with some black and red pepper but all together it becomes a sweet and wonderful accompaniment to the pork. Even with the fruit and the molasses, the dish wasn't sweet like I expected. Jeff said the bacon was his favorite part. It was nice and meaty and he could taste the applewood. Please note: I am not commenting on it......he didn't share! (I did get a bite of the pork.......but I think he saved the bacon for himself!)

Not getting to taste Jeff's bacon wasn't a problem since I had this big ol' plate of flaky buttermilk fried catfish. Oh my gracious The Porch does breading right! The fish meat was thick and juicy and the coating was flaky and crispy and seasoned perfectly! The andouille sausage was nice, but I could have skipped it........see how much catfish I have? But the most surprising part of the meal was the pimiento cheese grits. I took a bite. I took a second bite. Instantly an image of that goofy jar of Kraft cheese spread came to mind.......along with someone scraping every bit out of the jar to swirl into some grits. Yeah, that isn't what they do. Instead, The Porch makes their own pimiento cheese and oh is it worth it! A wonderful creamy taste with a bit of pimiento tang. Heaven!! Add in the pickled corn salsa and it could be a meal on its own.
For dessert, Hubby had the Wildflower Honey Creme Brulee.I thought it was a bit on the small side, but it was more than enough creamy honey goodness to satisfy him. The cream and berries went well to lighten up what could have easily become a heavy dish and provided a sweet ending to his meal.

That left the Red Velvet Float to me. I had never heard of Big Red before but liked the idea of a float......who doesn't? Well, Big Red is a cherry flavored cream soda that I was told is very popular in the South. Together with the buttermilk ice cream, it was a delicious treat. I was too full from the catfish to finish my dessert, but can see daydreaming about this float when the temperature breaks through 100F.

Now, while I don't think any combination of options of the Dine Downtown menu from The Porch will fail to leave you full and happy, if somehow you think you might have a smidge of room available, I would suggest you add an order of their Skillet Cornbread to your meal. Great cornbread and mouth watering homemade jam and jalapeno honey butter........or maybe get it the next time you go back? Because, if you go during Dine Downtown, you will probably go back. And isn't that the best part of the find new tasty places to eat?

Disclosure: Our meal was provided in exchange for this review and blog post. But, you know me......I tell it like it is! 

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