I was saddened to learn that one of Salt Lake City’s most consistent, high-quality restaurants will be permanently closing following dinner service this Saturday, September 28th. I am speaking of Meditrina, the eatery that introduced many diners in our community to tapas and small plates-style cuisine. That’s the bad news. The good news is that anyone, like me, who has enjoyed Meditrina owner Jen Gilroy’s cooking over the years has a second option: Porch.
Located on Daybreak’s SoDa Row (the southwest corner of Kestrel Rise Road in South Jordan), Porch is Jen Gilroy’s ode to the American South, where she is the owner and executive chef. Southern cooking has always been in Jen’s blood, and at Porch, she is letting her Southern flag fly!
There don’t appear to me to be many dining options nearby for the folks who live in Daybreak, so they should count themselves lucky to have a restaurant as good as Porch in their backyard. It appears to be plenty busy, brimming with customers both for brunch and dinner services. In warm weather, outdoor seating adds to the capacity of this attractive restaurant, with high ceilings, an open kitchen, and splashes of vibrant color throughout.
While perusing the Porch menu, I recommend enjoying a cocktail served Southern-style, in a traditional Ball jar. The Porch Lemonade is particularly appealing: SugarHouse vodka, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur, ginger simple syrup, lemon juice, and soda. There’s also a small but well-selected wine and beer list at Porch – one that includes one of my and my wife’s favorite Pinot Grigios: Redentore. Most of the wines are available by the glass or by the bottle.
Kick off your meal with something from the “Snacks” side of the menu, such as Iron Skillet Cornbread which comes with butter and tomato Tabasco jam ($3.99) or maybe Cheddar & Pickled Pepper Beignets with charred scallion aioli ($7.99). We opted for Porch’s House Pimiento Cheese ($7.99), which I could eat by the bucket-load. It’s essentially Drake Farms goat cheese, spiked in-house with pimientos and candied bacon, served with crisp baguette slices and cucumber.
If you enjoy that house-made pimiento cheese as much as I do, you’ll probably also enjoy the Porch Burger ($14), which comes with it. And by the way, Tuesdays are Burger & Wine Night at Porch, when burgers are $10 and glasses of wine are $5.
My wife, who is gluten-free, is crazy about shrimp and grits. If it’s on the menu, she’ll usually order it. And so, she did. Shrimp & Grits ($18) at Porch is described as coming with “diced ham with house BBQ butter and arugula salad.” Well … when my wife’s entree arrived we wondered, where’s the shrimp? The dish might be more accurately called “Arugula Salad with Shrimp & Grits.” There was a mountain of arugula to plow through to get to the shrimp and grits. Not that we don’t like arugula. We love the stuff. But, I mean … this was A LOT of arugula and a lot of diced ham and not so many shrimp. That’s a shame because the flavor was outstanding.
I fared much better with my Meatloaf entree. I haven’t tasted meatloaf that reminded me of home in a long, long time. Gilroy’s meatloaf ($16) is made with a mixture of all-natural ground beef and pork, topped with a tomato-balsamic glaze, and served with buttermilk whipped spuds, charred green beans, tomato confit, and crispy carrot chips. Everything – the meatloaf itself, the carrot chips, tomato confit, the charred beans, mashed potatoes – all of it was absolutely perfect. Comfort food at its finest.
And speaking of comfort food, you must try the Mac & Cheese ($4) from the “Fixins” menu at Porch. There was a bit of a service glitch and our macaroni and cheese arrived not even lukewarm, but cool-to-cold. A very spot-on waiter apologized, took blame for the error and before you could say “macaroni and cheese” a piping hot replacement was brought to our table. The cheese blend is stupendous: sharp Cheddar, Chevre, and Parmesan, with crumbled bacon on top.
I’m eager to return to Porch to try out some dishes like Gilroy’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($16), Grilled Utah Trout ($18), Crawfish Mac & Cheese ($17), and her Baby Back Ribs, which on Wednesdays are featured as an all-you-can-eat item. As for our Porch visit, it ended on a high note: uncomplicated, but absolutely delicious homemade banana pudding. Just perfect.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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