Making the Grade: The Front Porch

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PHOTO BY MIKE WALLACE

By Stacey Patton Wallace

I enjoy going to a fancy restaurant now and then; linen napkins, quiet music and that special ambience make for an enjoyable dining experience. However, according to my husband Mike, “You can’t eat ambience.”

  For instance, many years ago, before I met Mike, he worked at the medical department for West Point Pepperell. One night, Mike and his colleagues went to a nice restaurant in Columbus for supper. The restaurant featured booths that had décor from various countries, which were quite beautiful. However, Mike and his friends were fed a meager-sized meal: a piece of palm-sized meat, a scoop of mashed potatoes and bread. Needless to say, these ravenous men were still hungry at the end of the meal and wound up going to McDonald’s.

  A similar experience once happened to Mike and me. Our meal at a fancy restaurant was $110 including tip. Now, we don’t mind paying extra if the meal is great, and we are full. However, we were still hungry and went to Bruster’s Ice Cream afterward.

  Thankfully, diners will never leave hungry at the Front Porch at 7159 Co. Road 388 in Cusseta. My good friend Amy, who lives in Beulah, told me that I should eat at the Front Porch and write about it. Done. Amy is the best paraprofessional in Georgia and works at Long Cane Elementary School, right next door to our former middle school. I taught Amy’s youngest child Audrey Claire in my gifted class until January 2017, when she and her family moved to Beulah. I wish I had taught 100 students like Audrey Claire every one of my 30 years; she was wonderful.

  When Mike and I arrived at the Front Porch, I immediately loved the homey, casual atmosphere. Diners may sit in cozy rocking chairs on the porch. Also, the giant, metal rooster made me smile, so Mike took my picture beside it. In addition, there was a collection of different types of plates “planted” in front of the porch. I forgot to ask the significance of these colorful plates, so I’ll have to ask next time. Because if the Good Lord is willing, there will DEFINITELY be a next time.

  I also loved the restaurant’s walls because they were covered with Christian messages or funny signs. My favorite was: “Soup, beans, cornbread and fried potatoes. Make your tongue slap your brains out.”

  Mike and I met our friends William, Jack and Thomas for supper on Saturday night. Our waitress Carol was just the kind of server I love: Southern, sweet and funny. Carol said, “We have so much fun here.” And happy employees make for a much more pleasant dining experience.

  Mike, William and I chose the 12-ounce hamburger steak, while Jack and Thomas picked the fried catfish fillet. Our hamburger steaks were excellent, thick and juicy with grilled onions and brown gravy. Also, Jack and Thomas said that their catfish was crispy and delicious.

  In addition, Mike’s and my salads were really fresh and tasty. I appreciated that the salad had dark leaves, which are more nutritious. Also, our friends really enjoyed their coleslaw. In fact, all side items were great. I LOVED the fresh cut French fries; no frozen fries at the Front Porch.

  Toward the end of our meal, we heard a woman in the kitchen scream, “Dadgum it!” It turned out that Kristie, one of the restaurant’s owners, had good reason to yell. She had been frying chicken livers, and the grease popped out and burned her arm. After the accident, Kristie came out to the dining room, and a concerned customer asked her if she were all right. She assured him that she was. I was impressed that Kristie showed amazing restraint after being burned. Mama told me that frying chicken livers can really cause grease to pop. Mike’s Mama had a permanent scar from cooking them when she was young. I cooked fried chicken ONCE in a black skillet on my stove. I experienced some minor grease popping; however, I promptly retired from frying chicken and salute those who are brave enough to cook it since I love it so.

  After we finished our meal, I spoke to Anita Strickland, who co-owns the Front Porch with her sister Kristie Migoya, the brave chicken liver fryer. Strickland said, “We had just been open for a few weeks in 2020 when the pandemic hit, and we were forced to close.” Thankfully, they were able to survive when curbside dining was allowed. Take my advice: run and do not walk to this wonderful, family-owned restaurant.

  The Front Porch makes the grade with an A+ from this retired English teacher. Remember,
“Pooh-sized” people NEVER lie about food. Enjoy!

  Stacey Patton Wallace, who retired from teaching language arts for 30 years, is a professional diner. Her column, “Making the Grade,” will appear each week in the Observer. Stacey may be reached at retiredlangartsteacher2020@gmail.com

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