As I walked up to the Front Porch, I knew I was in for an interesting dining experience. Outside was an array of antique rocking chairs, overgrown houseplants, and festive lanterns. Inside was like stepping into a sweet southern grandma’s sitting room. Our group of ten was designated to the corner party table, tucked away next to the bar where we could be rowdy and not toooo disruptive. And then the eat fest began.
ADDRESSThe Front Porch
65 29th St
(between San Jose Ave & Tiffany Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Front Porch accurately describes its fare as Caribbean comfort food. We proceeded to order excessive amounts of it. The signature Fried Chicken was cleverly presented in a fun, retro, popcorn bucket, complete with a handful of popcorn to snack on, sides of stewed coconut red beans studded with pork belly bits, and spicy rice dirtied up with bean remnants and chicken gizzards. I had high expectations for this chicken, and although wish I could join the ranks that swear this is the best fried chicken in SF, I just can’t. While the chicken itself was indeed tender, juicy, and had a nice lemony note to it, I thought it lacked seasoning. That wasn’t the deciding factor though. No, it was in the skin. When I think "best fried chicken,” I think crispy, greaseless, golden brown, flavorful, crunchy crust. Front Porch’s version had a cornmeal-based crust that added an interesting texture, but just didn’t satisfy in terms of utter and complete fried chicken skin glory. I happily soothed my disappointment by ripping into the glistening rack of Bajan Baby Back Ribs. Sweet, sour, spicy, and delectably saucy, these BBQ ribs off the appetizer menu shone. Another show stealer – the Crab and Grits. Chunks of savory crabmeat sitting atop grits nursed with what you know must be unhealthy amounts of butter and cream, and dotted with a confetti of caramelized onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, and sweet corn kernels. Lick the bowl clean delish. Something worth mentioning – before our main dishes arrived, we received an amuse-bouche from the chef. It was unexpected, thoughtful, and made us feel special. Unfortunately, the flavor combination was a bit off. The concept was great, and in theory should have worked, but the shrimpy saltiness was too overpowering and left the sweet tangerine tasting a little funky. None of us liked it...but we all felt bad admitting it. In fact, that feeling sums up my general impression of Front Porch. A+ for effort, heart, thoughtfulness, and creativity, but B on execution. Don’t get me wrong, the food was good – not amazing, but good. What struck me though, and what I would consider a reason to return, was the great hospitality I felt. Owner, Kevin Cline was gracious and friendly, totally at ease chatting with patrons and rolling up his sleeves at the bar. And, our waitress handled a tough table (lots of overexcitement...lots of outside voices) with good humor and the right amount of take charge attitude. Front Porch is genuine, down home, and all about comfort. This is a place to spend an evening with good friends, laugh hard, dig in with your hands, and fill your belly.