The Front Porch Restaurant in Marion, KY
There are few things in this world I enjoy more than trying new restaurants. While having to eat gluten-free makes this somewhat like taking my stomach through a field of land mines, I have very few incidents, surprisingly.
I can’t tell you how excited I get when we pull into a Kentucky restaurant that we’ve never tried before…. and the excitement, somehow, reaches new heights when it’s an “off the beaten path” restaurant. The local vibe of such restaurants fascinate me and they always have. I got this from my dad, actually. Whenever we’d travel, he’d find the most obscure places to eat! My vacation memories almost never involve a chain restaurants… in fact, did we ever go to chain restaurants?!?
On the way home from Kentucky Lake a few weeks ago, we planned to stop by Feed Mill Restaurant in Morganfield, KY (wonderful restaurant in its own right!). We happened to drive past The Front Porch along the way and looked at each other like, “Hmmm…” Sure enough, my husband asked if I’d like to grab my iPhone and check their menu. It’s a routine we’re forced to go through to see if there’s anything I believe would be safe for me to eat, given the fact that my body believes gluten and wheat are poisonous.
I saw that they had grilled catfish, beans, potatoes, salad… you know, non-poisons, and told him I’d love to check The Front Porch out.
The Front Porch – As Charming Inside as it is Outside
Although we’d never stopped before, I’d always admired the charming restaurant and its adorable sign from afar. It’s one of those restaurants we always meant to “check out” (as in find the menu online and give it a once over) – I’m extra happy, now, that we finally just went to check it out in person.
So much funner… and tastier… that way!
Before I had to give up wheat and gluten, my favorite food in the world was fried catfish. Still is, actually, it’s just harder to find gluten-free catfish in restaurants than it is to find a white Tic Tac in a snow storm. Sure, I can make it at home, but unless we’re seated in Catfish Kitchen, ordering fried catfish in a restaurant is O-U-T. So, I’ve fallen in love with grilled catfish – if it’s done right. Wrong is dried out and tough. Right is moist, tender, and flavorful.
The Front Porch’s grilled catfish redefines right, if we’re being completely honest. It is phenomenal. It’s ties for the best grilled catfish I’ve ever gotten at a restaurant (tying with Cracker Barrel’s, which I’m obsessed with). It was simply seasoned (the route to go, more times than not, when dealing with catfish or shrimp, for that matter), tender, moist, and absolutely delicious.
Three bites in and it occurred to me, grilled catfish can be (and should be, by gosh!) just as delicious as fried catfish IF it’s done properly. I have a confession to make – 9 times out of 10, when I order grilled catfish, there’s tiny voice in my head that sobs because she’d rather be ordering fried. This grilled catfish was so ridiculously good that she stopped sobbing and said, “What? What a minute? Is grilled catfish supposed to be this good?”
Fried Catfish at The Front Porch
Okay, as you can see from the picture above, my husband IS able to order, eat, and enjoy every single bite of fried catfish. Enjoy? Well, that’s not quite the word with this particular fried catfish.
With each bite, he exclaimed that it was the best fried catfish he’s ever gotten out. Given that he has eaten fried catfish at every restaurant around the lakes and beyond, that’s saying something.
I mean… take my word for this one, we know our catfish.
At one point, he even asked to speak to the cook – to tell him how wonderful it was and to double-check and make sure that there was flour involved. I think he hoped against hope that the breading was only cornmeal so I could have had some.
Funny thing is, my grilled catfish and I were having a moment all our own!
Beautiful, Fresh, and Delicious Tossed Salad
Okay, so you probably can understand (and possibly even relate to) my obsession with catfish, but I may lose a few of you here. I normally do! I am also incredibly obsessed with salads. Yes… salads. A great tossed salad makes me perfectly giddy.
You should see the masterpieces I create at home. I throw a little bit of everything in my cart in the produce aisle and come home and make like Rembrandt. But getting a great tossed salad at a non-chain restaurant is generally uninspiring. You know the drill – it’s normally straight out of a bag – iceberg lettuce, rubbery radish slices, and tiny little orange strips that claim to be carrots.
The tossed salad at The Front Porch came to the table looking like something I would have assembled at a salad bar! See the proof in the picture above. Colorful, beautiful, fresh, and delicious.
The Front Porch just kept making me happier and happier.
Even the sweet tea was outstanding.
White Beans with a Delicious Red Relish
Last, but certainly not least, the sides. If you read many of my restaurant reviews, you know I love good sides. Actually, it’s more than that – I love good sides with personality. Don’t just trot out the predictables, give something that sets you apart. The Front Porch has the traditional catfish sides like baked potatoes, coleslaw, and beans and they’re all good. Like The Pond, in Aurora, they have a delicious red pepper relish for the beans that floats my boat. It’s a lovely extra that I’m in love with. It’s served on the side, so you can add it or not… though I have no idea why anyone would choose not. Unlike most restaurants, they also serve both corn muffins and hush puppies with their meals. My husband loves both, so he couldn’t have been happier.
Something else that made them stand out was really simple, yet deliciously cool – a pickle spear and bit of onion accompanies each catfish meal. Maybe I’m a simple kind of gal, but this really made the experience even cooler for me.
I am ALL about restaurants flaunting their individuality – giving their guests more than they’d expected or hoped for. Sadly, it’s pretty tough to find these qualities in restaurants (or anywhere) these days. The Front Porch proves that these old fashioned traits still, in fact, do exist.
Sometimes you just have to get off the beaten path to find them.
The Front Porch is a very friendly and charming little restaurant with food that’ll blow your mind. It’s located at 914 S Main St in Marion, KY. It is definitely worth the trip!