Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Front Porch Sittin’

Poogan’s Porch
72 Queen St.
Charleston, SC

Beer selection: All the Palmettos (Porter, Pale Ale, Lager & Amber).

Food: Gourmet Low Country cuisine worth planning your vacation around.

I travel a lot.

And I like to eat.

So people are always asking me where the best place in America is for good food. I guess they expect me to say New Orleans. Or Chicago. Or Memphis.

No doubt, great eating cities, all.

But if you want my opinion, the best eating city in America is right here – Charleston, South Carolina.

And Poogan’s Porch is one of the reasons why.

Of course, Charleston isn’t famous just for creative delicious food.

It’s also the Confederate history, Victorian architecture, gorgeous scenery, warm weather, soft breezes, beautiful beaches, Palmetto Pale Ale, fun watering holes and smoking hot Southern belles that make Charleston my favorite city on the continent.

But no trip to Charleston, no matter how brief, is complete without a meal at Poogan’s Porch. And in a city chock full of fun delicious places beckoning visitors’ allocation of precious stomach vacancy, that, my friends, is saying a mouthful.

Part of what makes Poogan’s so great is that it is quintessential Charleston, Southern to the core. A renovated 1888 Victorian home on a quiet side street in Charleston’s historic district, a meal at Poogan’s Porch is literally like dining in someone’s home.

The place is named after a beloved neighborhood dog whose favorite resting place -- like any self-respecting Southern hound -- was out on the front porch.

Poogan passed on to canine heaven a few years after the restaurant opened, but the owners honored him not only by naming their restaurant after him, but by burying him in the garden in front of his namesake porch.

I’ve enjoyed many a meal out on the porch looking down on Poogan’s little grave marker.

So I have to admit, it was a bit disconcerting when I discovered on my latest trip to Charleston that the restaurant paved over the garden to expand its outdoor dining options.

Apparently Poogan’s remains were disinterred and moved off to the side by the main walkway.

One can only hope the owners didn’t pull “a Poltergeist” and only move the marker! After all, the place is supposedly haunted already.

Come to think of it, that makes sense. If I were cursed to walk the earth for eternity, I’d want to hang out here too.

The food is that good.

Every meal starts out with a basket of soft, warm decadently delicious buttermilk biscuits, made from scratch served with a side of sweet honey butter that instantly melts into the steamy dough.

I overhead a waiter saying that Poogan’s Porch’s famous biscuit baker has been making them the same way for over three decades. Millions and millions of them.

One bite and you will know why Poogan’s biscuits are considered one of the top tourist attractions in all of Charleston.

On the side I ordered a Palmetto Espresso Porter, a dark toasty offering made from real espresso beans brewed by Charleston’s favorite local brewery.

By the time the macaroni and cheese appetizer came, I was thinking there is no way this meal can get any better.

I was wrong.

No child would ever again touch Kraft macaroni and cheese from the box after one bite of Poogan’s version. How does soft melted Gouda cheese loaded with country ham and scallions sound?

Yeah. Sorry, mom. This puts your mac & cheese to shame.

Dreading the coming end of oyster season, I decided today was a perfect day for Poogan’s version of a fried oyster po boy.

A decent number of perfectly seasoned and fried oysters drizzled with tangy remoulade, Poogan’s po boy came with lettuce, tomato and a whole mess of sweet potato fries. Delicious, just as I expected.

And that’s what makes Poogan’s Porch such an all-star dining destination.

One look at the place and you are captivated by its Southern charm. But it has the food to match the atmosphere. It’s a rare tourist destination that can claim both.

That’s why even locals and celebrities crowd onto the famous porch along with camera dangling tourists.

Blue bloods and Yankees. The famous and the infamous. Ghosts and lazy old Southern hounds.

No body steps off Poogan’s Porch without a smile on his face.

Rating: Bought the Shirt!

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