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Poogan's Porch - Charleston, SC


Restaurants & Bars

Poogan's Porch - Charleston, SC

DavidHeiser | Mar 18, 2009 07:28 PM

I usually share my reviews with you all here, but I've been MIA a little recently so I'll post this and a couple others to get caught up.

Anyhow, recently decided to give Poogan's Porch another shot after being unimpressed my last time out. Liked it, didn't love it. Had a bad experience with a Honey Dijon glaze.

Here were my thoughts:

"Living in Charleston, it would be pretty easy to dine out on a regular basis and never eat in the same place twice. That makes first impressions all the more important. After all, when you've got seemingly unlimited options, why would you go back to a restaurant that left you unimpressed?

I came away from my only previous experience at Poogan's Porch a little baffled by its popularity. The food wasn't bad, but I felt like there were any number of other establishments offering a better product for equal or less money. The fact that Poogan's is a regular stop on the local ghost tours doesn't do anything to deter the perception that it's just another tourist trap like Hyman's and Jestine's (although, I'll admit that I have been thinking of giving the latter a second chance as well).

One possible reason to return: an obscenely good deal that's almost impossible to resist. Such is currently the case at Poogan's, where they are currently featuring a rollback to 1978 menu prices from Sunday-Thursday every week. Since that may be an abstract concept to some of us who were still a good eight years away from being born, it translates to entree prices in the $7-$10 range. Sounds good with economy the way it is, huh?

So, last week I decided to take advantage of the deal and see if things were different the second time around.

To start our meal, we opted for two Charleston favorites--she-crab soup ($3) and fried green tomatoes ($3). While Poogan's F.G.T. certainly aren't Earth-shatteringly unique, they are definitely pretty damn good. What makes this particular version so great is batter. Poogan's F.G.T. are fried to absolute perfection--golden brown, crisp, and not too greasy. I've ordered this Southern staple at about a million restaurants in my lifetime, but Poogan's variety is easily among my all-time favorites. The Cajun remoulade that accompanies the tomatoes was wonderful, but I enjoy them just as much by themselves.

The she-crab soup, while above average, is a bit heavy for my taste. The right flavors were all there, but after a few spoonfuls I could actually feel my BMI rising. I wish more local restaurants would make an attempt at poaching Chef Frank McMahon's she-crab recipe over at Hank's. McMahon's version has the perfect consistency and just the right amount of sherry.

For my entree, I opted for the Pecan-crusted Fried Flounder ($9). Every halfway-decent restaurant excels at something, and after my first bite of flounder it became obvious that Poogan's expertise is its staff's unbelievable knack for frying things. The crust was crisp and crunchy without being too heavy. The subtle nutty flavor of the pecans also added a really nice base note. It was just really pleasant to bite into. Unfortunately, the second bite wasn't quite as pleasant.

One of the reasons I was drawn to the dish was the mention of the honey-Dijon glaze. Now, let it be known that I'm a full blown mustard addict. At any one time, I have at least three different varieties in my refrigerator (most importantly a bottle of Bertman's Ballpark Mustard--a Cleveland tradition--which I import from Ohio). Suffice it to say, I was expecting good things. When I excitedly dipped my next bite of flounder into the sauce and popped it into my mouth, however, I got a strange feeling that I've only previously had while eating sushi. It was that sinus clearing burning sensation that happens when you unexpectedly catch a chunk of wasabi with your chopsticks. Seriously, the sauce was just a little absurd. The Dijon completely overpowered the taste of the fish, crust, and may have possibly permanently melted a few of my taste buds. It wasn't all bad though. After a few bites I managed to get a grip on the maximum amount of sauce I could use without smothering the other flavors. Once I got to this point and could taste a bit of the sweetness of the honey, it was smooth sailing.

My partner opted for the Pan Fried Porkchop ($8). Topped with sun-dried tomatoes and a country ham gravy, the porkchop was tender, juicy, and free of burning sensations. I wish the flavor of the sun-dried tomatoes would have come through a little more clearly, but, still, the gravy was tasty and it was a successful dish.

Overall, while Poogan's Porch isn't likely to blow anyone away, it's certainly more serviceable than I remembered. If you have an opportunity to make it out before the current promotion is done, I would definitely recommend taking advantage of the opportunity. Apart from the items we ordered, there were several other intriguing (and incredibly priced) options. Shrimp & Grits, steak, and pork tenderloin could each be had for under $10. You can't beat that. After the current promotion is over and prices return to normal, it's your call as to whether Poogan's is a worthy investment. If you do go, however, be sure to tip well, my roommate works there and we can always use the beer money. "

- DH - One Charleston College Student's Guide to Food and Film

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