by LINDEN GROSS, One Stop Writing Shop & Oregon LocalGetways
They had me at the truffle parmesan fries.
One of my writing coach clients, a Sisters resident, told me about The Porch. “It’s our favorite place.” After dinner there I understood why.
Some restaurants are like a carefully composed symphony, with dishes that build on each other. The Porch is more like a jazz riff, with a creative, international approach to comfort food served in a charming, rustic, cottage setting that’s as playful as the food.
In addition to the divine aforementioned truffle fries dusted with shavings of parmesan, our shared plates kicked off with a serving of corn fritters featuring creamy interiors and crunchy exteriors drizzled with Sriracha mayonnaise. The corn tasted so fresh that they must have picked and shucked the corn cobs that same day.
Salads followed. The Orange Caesar Salad, served with Mandarin Oranges and a tasty, crunchy filo black-pepper crouton, didn’t quite have enough zip or anchovy taste for me, but I loved the Strawberry Salad with its organic mixed greens, fresh strawberries, creamy goat cheese and candied pecans. “I like this ballet of texture,” my brother Jeff announced. I had worried that the salad would be sweet, but the emulsified strawberry vinaigrette balanced fruit and tartness wonderfully.
Mountain Raspberry BBQ Ribs accompanied by Southern Broccoli Slaw got our main courses under way. People often talk about meat that’s fall-off-the-bone tender. That’s not just talk at The Porch. The pork actually slid off the bone and onto my plate as I served myself. “This is how a rib should be,” announced my friend and trainer Scott Lemon. “Tender, moist with a wonderful outside char.” I also loved the faintly sweet Mountain Raspberry Sauce made with freshly-picked wild raspberries. “We work closely with forgers and farmers,” said co-owner Jon Hosler. That clearly makes a world of difference when it comes to taste.
The menu at The Porch changes about every two months. September’s empanadas featured Chicken Teriyaki, grilled pineapple and green onions—they were topped with a soy reduction and served on a bed of Napa cabbage slaw with chili paste dressing.
“There’s always some kind of empanada on the menu,” said Hosler. Past empanadas have included hot wings with blue cheese, chicken Cordon Bleu and one packed with Indian flavors. “There are no boundaries at The Porch,” Hosler added. “We just have fun.”
That explains the Chicken N Waffles served with sautéed spinach and herbed maple syrup. The juicy fried chicken’s breading had a lovely cayenne kick and risks being positively addictive. Personally, I would trade the waffles and syrup for smashed potatoes (which is an option), but a couple of my tablemates loved the fun, soul-food dish.
Since the restaurant’s menu will switch to mostly Italian dishes in October, something The Porch does twice a year, Jon and his mother Caryl Hosler, the restaurant’s chef and co-owner, sent out Chicken Piccata next. The chicken breast was moist and super lemony, and the generous portion of capers added a delectable hint of pickled saltiness. The accompanying rustic smashed potatoes were the ideal vehicle for the deliciously zesty sauce.
We ended the meal with downright perfect Almond Roca Crème Brulee (now there’s a winning combination if I ever heard one) and a chunky carrot cake whose recipe dates back to Caryl Hosler’s grandmother (who was Jon Hosler’s great grandmother). The topping of fresh whipped cream sweetened with just a hint of brown sugar put this not-overly sweet dessert right over the top.
The Porch opened in Sisters three years ago. “We’re a great little secret,” said Jon Hosler. I’m guessing that with a chef whose credits include cooking at Jen’s Garden for four years and winning (with TR McCrystal) the Iron Chef title at Bite of Bend, a menu that lives up to its “crazy good comfort food” billing, and a setting that’s as cute as it is homey, The Porch won’t be a secret for long.
243 N Elm Street; Sisters
Owners: Caryl Hosler & Jon Hosler
Dinner: Friday-Tuesday 5–9pm
(closed Wednesday & Thursday)
Sunday Brunch (complete with build-your-own Bloody Mary bar)