CHEAP EATS It started when our friend Stringbean texted that their mom and pop were going to New Orleans, where should they tell them to eat? Hedgehog was preparing a long, thorough, annotated email response while I texted back one word: Bacchanal. And then we both looked at each other and started to cry.
The two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl were tough — even tougher than the two days after. I actually listen to sports talk radio, see, on my way to and from work, and all anyone was talking about, even more than football, see, was po’ boys, etouffe, jambalaya, and gumbo.
And even when they weren’t, they were talking about Hurricanes and Pimm’s Cups and how many everybody had and then-what-happened. Until I even started to miss that side of it — which I never much participated in anyway.
Almost by accident, on Super Bowl Sunday morning, we had brunch at the Front Porch, and I’m trying not to say “new favorite restaurant” anymore; but sweet baby Jesus the shrimp and grits!
Poor Hedgehog is still kicking herself for going with chicken and waffles. Chawing on her fingers, rending her garments, and thrashing in her sleep . . . you would think she called for a fade route on fourth-and-goal at the five, or something.
“We get to go back,” I keep telling her, over me-made chicken and other anti-depressants. “Possibly as soon as next weekend!”
But I do see her point. It was one of the wonkiest mal-orders in Meal History. She’s gluten-free, and so are shrimp and grits. Whereas waffles are not. San Francisco A.G. (Anno Gravy’s) is not a fried chickeny town. It’s just not, and probably never will be. I can go on and on: she wasn’t hungry. We’d just had breakfast and were going after brunch to Binko’s Super Bowl party, where there would be giant vats of chili gurgling on the stove.
She even asked me if she should order the chicken and waffles and do you know what I said? I said, “No!”
But she audibilized at the line-of-scrimmage and the rest is mystery.
Possibly she was distracted by the radiance of our brunching companion, Lalalala “Happy” Valentina, one of my favorite people to sit around a campfire with, although we haven’t sat around one for several years. Her dad played pro baseball. Made it briefly to the majors, I forget who with, and Hedgehog gets flustered around the progeny of ex-major-league-baseball players.
So there was that.
Luckily, I kept my own wits about me and ordered what Hedgehog should have ordered: shrimp and grits. So good. So so so so . . . whereas the fried chicken was just so so. I mean, sustainable, free-range, vegetarian, home-schooled chicken, no doubt, but that is exactly why we will never be a fried chickeny town. We care too much.
Even I do.
But at least it was fried to-order. You know because they warn you it takes 25 minutes. Fine. Hedgehog and Happy had a lot to talk about. For a long time they’ve both been on the nuts-and-boltsy end of making TV and picters, and both have big, good, sometimes somewhat similar ideas about writing and producing. One gets the feeling if they put their big good heads together, either amazing things or lawsuits will happen.
I’m telling you: best shrimp and grits I’ve had this side of Luke. Fluffy and flavorful, with a poached egg nestled into the top of it. As you read this, I’m realizing just now, writing it, Hedgehog will be eating at Luke without me. It’s already in our calendar: Happy Valentine’s Day, dang it. She’ll be in New Orleans, working for a week, and I’ll be here haunting the Front Porch.
Beignets, fried okra, gumbo, red beans and rice, even po’ boys . . . all of it’s at least a little overpriced, but what I love is the atmosphere is down-to-earth. The front porch itself. The checkered floor, wooden tables, what Happy’s li’l son calls “the chocolate bar ceiling” . . . Wait, there’s nothing down-to-earth about a chocolate bar ceiling. Or any other kind, come to think of it.
I just can’t believe it took me this long to get there.
THE FRONT PORCH
Dinner: Mon.-Sat., 5:30-10:30pm; Sun., 5-10pm; Brunch: Sat.-Sun., 10am-2:30pm
65A 29th St., SF