Apologies for adding yet another southern/meat-and-three style restaurant review, but we are talking about Tuscaloosa here. Barry’s recent trip to Mr. Bill’s inspired me to try another restaurant I’ve driven past every day for two years and never tried. Just a mile (or less) up Highway 43 north in Northport (out of the way for many, but on the way home for me) sits The Front Porch Restaurant.
I found a brief review a while back of The Front Porch on Well That’s Cool, an awesome website dedicated spreading the word about good things in Tuscaloosa. The review of complimentary of the restaurant’s preparation of their steak, and it mentioned a meat-and-three option. I decided to try the latter on my visit.
They keep a standard set of veggies/sides available every day (fries, green beans, mac and cheese, etc.) and rotate a few more in depending on the day of the week. Apparently Thursdays are broccoli casserole and creamed corn day. The meats change every day as well. I was left deliberating between the fried pork chop and chicken and dumplings, both of which I am particularly fond. At the waitress’ recommendation, I went with the dumplings, and I ordered the corn, mac and cheese, and broccoli casserole to go with it. The meal also includes sweet tea and either cornbread or a roll for $7.00.
First of all, I didn’t intend for my meal to be entirely white and yellow. I never did like greens very much, though some green beans would have probably been a good choice. The chicken and dumplings were delicious—the closest anyone has ever gotten to my dad’s specialty. The dumplings were super thin and the chicken was finely shredded—not like the big chunks of both you get if go somewhere like Cracker Barrel. The sauce was also spot on. Not too thick or thin. The broccoli casserole was good. A pretty standard combination of rice, broccoli, cream of mushroom soup, and cheese, but well executed. The mac and cheese was equally good with large elbow noodles that were baked without being dry. My least favorite part of the meal was the creamed corn. The corn itself was yellow and sweet, but the cream part wasn’t quite right. It was more pasty than creamy (which wasn’t as bad as it sounds), and I was only able to finish about half of the rather large bowl I was given.
As you would expect from a place who includes sweet tea in their meals but charges you extra for soda, the tea is wonderfully sweet, and the staff is friendly. The waitresses appeared to be mostly high-school aged girls, who were a lot better at their jobs than I was when I was eighteen. My food was out of the kitchen in what seemed like only a minute, and my server was quick to offer my check and take my card (and refill my tea) as well. My favorite part of the meal was the man and his grandson that sat down near me. The boy, who must have been about four, made a bee line at one point for the kitchen door with his granddad chasing after him. The servers looked at one another in a moment of panic, but the man emerged, looking exasperated but carrying the boy on his hip, and everyone had a good laugh.
The Front Porch doesn’t try to be fancy. They just do the things you love right, and that’s just fine with me. Oh, and the post-church crowd there is massive, so you might want to avoid that.
The Front Porch is located at 4421 Hwy 43N in Northport. It’s in the Dollar General shopping center, just north of Hick’s BBQ (and where Archibald and Woodrow’s used to be).