by Matt Jackson
As soon as you enter The Porch located right off Henderson Avenue you feel welcome. The hosts attend to you as soon as you walk into the restaurant without a lengthy wait. Natural light floods into the building, giving everything in the restaurant a homey glow, and the smoky, mouth-watering aroma of cooked and seasoned food wafts through the breezy air. The interior of the restaurant is cozy, but for those who enjoy the outdoors while dining, an outdoor dining option is available.
The Porch’s menu brims with variety, with jalapeno cornbread, served with honey butter, garlic-mashed gold potatoes, and roasted beets with goat cheese in the sides menu alone. There’s no monotony to be found here.
Once I overcame the sheer amount of possibilities, I settled on the Porch Grilled Cheese, served with dexterously seasoned fries and a side of The Porch’s very own smoked ham mac and cheese casserole. After a brief 20 minutes, my waitress brought my meal.
The Porch’s grilled cheese reminds one of a patchwork masterpiece of cheeses made from Gruyere, provolone and cheddar. When pulling the sandwich apart, a gooey string of cheese forms so thickly you need a fork to slice it in two. The bread boasts a kind of flaky perfection, the crust gives a satisfying crunch, and the saltiness of the thin fries complements the thickness of the sandwich delightfully.
However, despite the merits of the grilled cheese and the fries, the smoked ham mac and cheese casserole earns the title of my meal’s highlight. The fact that it came with its own glaring, red box on the menu gave an early indication of the experience to come.
A dish unique to the Porch, the alluring arrangement of the casserole leaves its consumers dazzled. Served in a small skillet, the breadcrumbs in the casserole, cooked to a steady brown, sit atop skillfully smoked ham and zesty, stringy cheese. The decadently meaty, neatly cubed ham, the breadcrumb crust that snaps attractively under the weight of the fork, and the macaroni is fused expertly with all the other elements of the casserole — these three facets may seem simple at first glance but are combined in an inimitable and filling way. I finished the casserole in its entirety before struggling to eat the sandwich and fries. Before the end of my dining experience, only half of the sandwich and a pile of fries remained.
Students looking to experience all that The Porch offers don’t need to travel far, as it’s only a quick five-minute trip from campus. You can go later in the day for a substantial dinner and top it off with a gooey butter cake or triple chocolate brownie from the dessert menu. For those seeking a brunch meal, visit before 2:30 p.m. for some biscuits and gravy or buttermilk pancakes with whipped cream cheese and fresh berries.