Dinner Wallflower at Tallahassee’s The Front Porch Restaurant
Nothing says hospitality and neighborly friendliness like a front porch so it’s only appropriate Tallahassee, Florida’s capital recognized for Southern hospitality, has a new restaurant named The Front Porch with a famed chef at the creative culinary helm. I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this restaurant (located at the former location of Chez Pierre for those of you familiar with Tallahassee) yet my dinner experience this week fell short of my expectations.
Just a Dinner Wallflower
Business travel usually means dining alone for me. Although I have no problem doing it, sometimes I’m self conscious of my singleness especially after sitting for 15 minutes and not being acknowledged by a server. Such was the case the other night at The Front Porch. I was just a wallflower sitting there on the porch listening to the rain and watching other guests being seated and served.
It was actually quite lovely listening to raindrops dancing on canvas above. Rustic-like lights lit strung throughout the patio area and offered a warm subdued glow. The 1920s house had undergone a major rehab and it looked very stylish and clean with shabby-chic white decor inside.
Feeling my blood sugar dip I finally decided to grab the first server who was in earshot. He said he wondered who my server was and said he’d find out. He later returned with a glass of water and said he’d take my order.
Decisions, Decisions from the Menu
Do they serve dinner specials? I don’t know, the server didn’t tell me so I simply ordered off the menu which seemed to have a larger alcohol selection than food. Well, it is a college town (and Florida’s capital). Entrees were a fusion of Portuguese, seafood and Southern comfort food.
Since I’m supposed to be learning Portuguese (Brazilian) and will be heading back to Rio de Janeiro in May, I opted for something in that culture and out of my food comfort zone, Portuguese style pork and clams ($23). They were served with crispy potatoes, smoked paprika, garlic and cilantro with a side of roasted zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash and red onions ($6).
The Front Porch’s Chef Joe Rego is Food Network’s Chopped Champion (July 2012) and a native of Portugal so I reasoned something from his native country would taste delicious. Without a frame of reference as to what it was supposed to taste like, it was alright and I probably wouldn’t order it again. I love cilantro but really didn’t taste it and in some bites couldn’t tell the difference between the potatoes and fried pork. The overall dish had a slightly sour flavor and maybe that’s the way it was supposed to taste. The side of roasted squash and onions was very tasty.
Where was the Wow?
Dinner wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t that “wow” factor I expected. If an eatery doesn’t have the foundation of guest service and excellent food, pumping significant dollars into renovations and having a Food Network Chopped Champion chef crafting the menu means nothing for sustainability.
If I find myself up in Tallahassee, I’m not sure if I’ll make a return visit to the restaurant. The manager visited a couple of tables around me to address challenges and I overheard him say changes will be happening in the near future. If that’s the case, maybe I’ll give The Front Porch another chance.
Note: Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be busy and booked a reservation. I showed up 10 minutes prior to my reservation and there were plenty of open tables inside and out on the patio.
The Front Porch
1215 Thomasville Road
Contact the restaurants for hours of operation. Complimentary valet parking is available for diners.
Looking for a place to stay in Tallahassee? Try the chic Hotel Duval.
FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links with the goal to support maintenance of this blog and my traveling habit.