Even a favorite can’t be perfect

I’m among the many who love the restaurants lining Henderson Avenue. One of my favorites draws in customers with a desirable porch in the summer that is thankfully covered and heated in the winter.

The Porch has brought diners in for expertly-designed cocktails and expensive comfort food for almost three years. I couldn’t be more satisfied with the smoked ham mac & cheese casserole. The Stodg burger is a guilty pleasure with aged cheddar, bacon, a fried egg and traditional toppings. The pounded chicken parm is a cheesy favorite I order repeatedly.

The big board to the right of the 45-foot bar lists the feature cocktails and menu items. Wood-topped tables line the inside for a comfort feeling, while the porched seating provides diners to lookout to Henderson Avenue.

I recently dropped by the Porch on one of our frigid evenings eager to indulge. My date ordered a Caesar salad, which was well-tossed with parmesan and a creamy dressing. I know I will never call a Caesar dressing perfect, and this one wasn’t, but it made for a salad worth ordering again. Though my favorite part was undoubtedly the parmesan wafers lining the bowl.

We had heard that we would find some of the best fish and chips in Dallas here and we were eager for our main courses to arrive. My choice had been the grilled cheese paired with a tomato soup that a waiter promised was better than La Madeleine‘s, (which is in no way true at all). Beside the over-advertised soup sat a griddled sandwhich of  sliced tomato in between melted layers of  Port Salute, provolone and aged cheddar. The bread, a thick slice of brioche, was perfectly grilled with a copious amount of butter. I believe I share Julia Child’s love for butter, but when taking a bite of this sandwich, all I tasted was butter and tomato, an odd combination not worth tasting. Give me regular toast with loads of cheese and I would be happy.

On the other side of the table were the coveted fish and chips. The breaded halibut was too hot for me to take my time dipping it into the sweet dill tartar sauce. The breading was perfect–so many fish and chip attempts fail at the first bite of a bland, fried coating of a fish. However, the failure at the Porch came with the fish itself, which lacked any flavor. A simple dredging in seasoning before the batter would solve this problem, I imagine, avoiding the utter disappointment of the diner when finishing the bite–the taste of an impressive batter leaves the senses as the “taste” of a bland fish takes over.

So a couple of items are struck from the Porch’s menu for me, but I still have no doubt the atmosphere, cocktails and oversized burgers will have me return.

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