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Porches.

It is a 2 1/2 hour drive from Biloxi to Wesson, and much of it is over an 1-55 roadway that is about as bumpy as it gets. But let me make something very clear: no matter where you live, no matter the condition of the roadway to get here, this trip is worth every misery, every jolt, and every sore muscle.

Porches is located in a well-preserved 1878 heart-pine home, and for 21 years chef Chris McSweny has been putting out some of the best Southern-style cuisine that you will find anywhere. It is a comfortable place with sharp service, a simple two-page menu, daily specials, and just over half a dozen house specialties. To tell the truth, I wouldn't care if this place was in a falling-down cow barn, the food is that good--so masterfully prepared and just delicious. I couldn't say more than "wow" with every bite.

Porches is spectacular for many reasons. Certainly the talents of Chef Chris are at the forefront, but it is his made-from-scratch, in-season philosophy that makes the difference. Tomatoes not in season? Don't look for them on the menu. When they are in season, they come from a farm down the road.

When I asked about the most popular dishes, I received bewildered looks because everything is incredible. I arrived on a Tuesday and that meant shrimp and eggplant crostini were on the menu. Thick slices of eggplant are lightly breaded, perfectly fried, and then equally topped with perfectly cooked shrimp and a light cream sauce. The sauces here are so good that I was tempted to ask who the "saucier" was, but I knew better. Chef Chris is a one-man show, along with several talented line cooks. No saucier need apply.

I tried more dishes than I should have, but each bite led to just one more. The oyster salad was a grand way to start--oysters fried exactly as they should have been, juicy, but crisp. The crab cakes were served with a killer spicy comeback sauce and were as good as any crab cakes I have had, maybe even better. Light, not dense as some are when eggs are used to bind them, full of crab and no fillers. This is the way crab cakes are supposed to be. An innovative and delicious surprise was the turnip green soup--light and creamy with a dusting of Parmesan cheese. Another surprise was the ruby red freshwater trout that was served with a caper butter sauce. The chef's favorite, although not always on the menu, is a mushroom-Swiss burger topped with caramelized red onions, portobelo mushroom, and sauteed spinach.

I could go on and on. Porches is truly one of the best restaurants in Mississippi, period. Walk, hitchhike, ride your bike, but just get there. M

Porches

1191 U.S. Hwy. 51, Wesson

601.643.9035 or msporches.com

Open Tuesday-Friday,

11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Friday 5.30 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Title Annotation:FOOD & ENTERTAINING: Back Road Bistros
Author:Brunt, Julian
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 2016
Words:506
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