On the first floor of a 115 year-old repurposed train depot sits Porch, a restaurant poised to bring Rochester chef-style fried chicken and the finest smoked meats available to humanity.
Under a woodgrain ceiling bedecked with recycled red chicken wire, ZZest Chef Justin Schoville, Jason Zubay, and Lindsay Zubay hone paying attention to details into an artform.
Walt Disney’s commitment to detail, “All horses jump, no chipped paint,” hangs enshrined on an oversized quote board inside and sums up the team’s ethos. If the devil is in the details, then so is the goodness in their fried chicken.
Frozen chicken parts tossed into a frier? No, not at Porch. They double dredge. They use two different flours for a crispy coating. A 24 hour brining process with citrus. A cleaner fry. A crisper crunch. A moister meat.
It’s a process so involved that, of my 34 minute conversation with Schoville, over half of it consisted of him explaining how he makes the chicken. At one point, he even rattled off, by memory, the various weights of the thighs and breasts he cooks. This dude doesn’t play when it comes to making food.
At Porch, they even take the extra step of providing frosting for their fried chicken. “Some people say really good fried chicken doesn’t need a sauce. I disagree,” says Schoville.
Each serving of bird comes complete with honey butter produced by Velvet Bees out of St. Paul and a slice of lemon. Baste your chicken, add a squeeze of lemon, and the package is complete, its taste balanced.
The joint also serves smoked brisket, kale salad, pork sandwiches, brussel sprouts, and a meatloaf patty melt. Each piece of the menu went through similar scrutiny as the chicken.
Remarkably, these items exist within an affordable price range. Porch is a place where, for under $10, you can eat a couple pieces of fried chicken that took over two days to make. For around $56, you can get 8 pieces of chicken, 4 biscuits, and 8 pint glasses of beer.
At the bar with uncommon views of downtown, the inclusion of a Pimm’s cup on the menu made me smile, but, according to Jason Zubay, the most popular boozy beverages are $2 picklebacks, which are whiskey shots chased with pickle brine (Jameson Irish whiskey and Tony Packo’s pickle brine). Crazy as it sounds, according to Zubay, they’re outselling Surly Furious.