Where to The Porch, a Southern restaurant at Medford’s River’s Edge development.
Why For live music, fried chicken, deviled eggs, cornhole, and plenty of outdoor seating in an otherwise hushed residential complex and office park, along the Malden River. Birds chirp, a child drifts by on a scooter, and parallel parking is a dream.
The back story Chef-owner Jonathan Post comes from Nashville and has worked at notable spots before landing here: Blue Ginger, Moody’s Delicatessen, and 80 Thoreau. Executive chef Alex Horowitz comes from The James in Needham. The Porch isn’t completely new: It first opened in Wakefield in 2016, with just 20 seats. The Medford space has room for 250, plus a stage and a billiards area. A large portrait of Willie Nelson watches over the dining room.
What to eat A big roster of Southern classics. Smaller starters include hush puppies with a sharp bacon onion jam ($7) and spicy pork rinds ($4). Share a tin of pimento cheese (sadly encumbered by strips of pickled onions — just let us at the cheese, please!) with saltines ($8) or fluffy biscuits and Benton ham, with a swipe of sorghum butter on the side, worth eating on its own ($16). Plates are also big enough to share: head-on shrimp and grits ($18); cornmeal-crusted catfish ($18); grilled striped bass with pecan butter sauce ($29). The restaurant also has a 1,000-pound wood-fired smoker: try trays of chopped whole hog ($19) or Texas brisket ($22) served with two sides: collard greens, mac and cheese, grits, smoked green beans, potato salad. Or share a whole Nashville hot chicken ($36).
What to drink Miller High Life, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz — paired with a shot, if you choose. More sophisticated sippers might try the Georgia Pine Milk Punch, made with gin, basil, bergamot, lime, and cucumber ($12).
The Takeaway What sticks out most here is the friendly service. When my child knocked his fried chicken sandwich onto the floor, he was given a new one, without charge. “I’m a mom; I get it,” said our server, who also let us in on the most cost-efficient way to order (a tray for the adults; a meal of sides for the kids) and suggested a game of cornhole. And when my brisket sandwich never materialized — and then arrived without the promised Duke’s mayonnaise — it was wordlessly taken off the bill. 175 River’s Edge Drive, Medford, 781-874-9349, www.theporchsouthern.com