Southern Sophistication

Louisville Marriott Downtown debuts Porch Kitchen & Bar

Story by Remy Sisk

Photos by Josh Keown

By now, most Louisvillians are familiar with their dining options when they head downtown for a game or concert at the KFC Yum! Center. Diverse and delicious options abound on Whiskey Row and surrounding blocks. However, as of late, there is another option to consider: Porch Kitchen & Bar. Part of the Louisville Marriott Downtown, whose renovations will be complete on April 26, Porch opened on Feb. 21. From what they’re serving up, it’s already clear Porch is becoming a unique fixture in the downtown dining scene.

As it’s part of the Marriott, there’s rarely a time that Porch isn’t serving food. Breakfast begins every weekday at 6:30 a.m. followed by lunch, happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. and then dinner until 11 p.m. Brunch is served on the weekends from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., a window that allows everyone from the early birds to the late risers to get a seat at the table.

In the development of Porch’s concept, the creators wanted to make a space that was inviting and comfortable while still boasting an impressive menu that is both accessible and culinarily distinct. The results are fabulous. Chef Josh Carter says that in the few weeks Porch has been open, it has become known already for its fried chicken. A singular take on a classic, Porch’s fried chicken is brined for a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 36 and is served with housemade coleslaw, a hot honey drizzle and mushroom gravy.

Meanwhile, the loaded BBQ pulled pork nachos are similarly comforting while also sophisticated. The dish consists of slow-roasted pulled pork that the team makes in-house and smokes overnight for at least eight hours, housemade queso, pico de gallo, black beans and pickled fresno peppers. It’s all topped with a barbecue sauce that is actually comprised of three different sauces: a hot sauce, a sweet barbecue and a spicy barbecue.

Additionally, Carter insists that he and his team at Porch are committed to providing options for anyone and everyone with dietary restrictions. For example, the quinoa vegetable chili can be made vegan. Carter has replaced the traditional meat in chili with quinoa and added several different vegetables to make the dish extra hearty. The chili is then topped with a small salad featuring a housemade lemon dressing, pico, cotija cheese, romaine lettuce and a lime crema.

For dessert, Carter has created the all too sinful bourbon butter cake, which is just that – a vanilla cake soaked overnight in butter, sugar and bourbon. When plated, it’s topped with local ice cream and pecans. Without question, each dish at Porch is a genuinely complex effort in the kitchen. “Every dish has at least two different recipes, sub-recipes and finishes that go along with it,” says Carter.

Even though the components of each dish are all freshly prepared, Carter maintains that each time a customer visits, the dishes should taste the same since he holds consistency as a vital tenet is his kitchen. “Here at Porch, it’s definitely about comfort food but I would say we have some Southern influence and we definitely put a culinary flair to it and make sure the product is consistent – consistency is a major priority of ours,” he affirms. “All of our recipes are in grams, which is a very fine measurement.”

Aside from the food, the cocktail program at Porch is likewise awe-inspiring, and the amount of craft and care put into each drink is astounding. Their take on an Old Fashioned uses Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon, black walnut bitters and vanilla demerara with Madagascar vanilla beans, which allows for a slightly sweeter and smoother finish. The Prickly Pear Margarita packs the perfect amount of punch and is topped with an edible orchid. Porch recently debuted a particularly exciting cocktail called the Rose and Fig, which offers rosemary-infused Jim Beam Black bourbon and fig syrup.

Regardless of if you go to eat, drink or do both, Carter wants to emphasize that no matter what you’re looking for, Porch can do it and do it in style. “We have something for everybody – our menu is designed so that you can bring in a group of 10 people and we would have something for everyone,” he contends, and it would all be set in Porch’s laid-back atmosphere, creating a comfortable dining experience you won’t soon forget. VT

Porch Kitchen & Bar

280 W. Jefferson St.