A sleek New York bar with some old school Southern style? It sounds like a formula for success, and indeed it has been. Porchlight is a hit. It doesn’t hurt either that it’s a bar from Danny Meyer and the Union Square Hospitality Group – they of Gramercy Tavern fame. Here, the drinks are strong, and the welcome is genuine. The food is a mix of laid back, down-home country-style cooking, and fine dining. And the space? Well, it’s flawless, as you might expect. A meeting of the minds between rustic and warehouse chic. The bar is reclaimed wood, the lighting is atmospheric (read: low and tinged with amber), and you might even find vintage board games, if you know where to look (the back room).
First, the drinks. On the cocktail list, you’ve got the light and easy guzzlers (punch, frozen goodies, and the like) and the sippers. The latter are, as Porchlight will reaffirm, not for the weak of heart. They’re a potent mix of bitters, herbal notes, and lashings of good ol’ hooch. The Mother of Exiles (Rittenhouse Rye, Jameson, Meletti and Amontillado Sherry) is a case in point. There’s also a few “nerdy” options on the cocktail list (Lord of the Rings fans will love the Jolly Tom Bombadil with its Coconut Washed Fords Gin, ESP NoHo Gin, Douglas Fir brandy, lemon, honey and egg white) and some classics. Not to mention a whole host of bottled, canned and draught beers, wine, spirits and even a handful non-alcoholic house-made sodas on the drinks list that’ll make the designated drivers feel slightly less put upon.
Food-wise, it’s safe to say you’re in for a treat. There are po’boys and Texas-style chili, bourbon bar nuts (served warm), hush puppies with a spring onion puree, and smoked cheddar biscuits. Oysters here are fried and served with “comeback sauce”, and mushrooms get barbecued and stuffed in a sandwich with Alabama white Sauce and gruyere, served with a side of ‘slaw. Much like the chicken dish in the menu of bigger plates (which adds a punch of flavour with habanero honey), Porchlight is a firecracker.