Published on June 22nd, 2012 | by Katie Elberson0
Porters in Federal Hill [REVIEW]
I can’t really think of too many bars that are packed on a Wednesday night in June, when the weather is more suited to grilling and roof decks. No trivia contest, no outrageously cheap beer specials, not even any outdoor seating space. Still, when we wandered into Porters last week, there was literally nowhere to sit in the bar area. In fact, I couldn’t see any open tables in the whole place from the doorway. I was convinced there’d be a wait and, since I was starving, I wasn’t really willing to postpone dinner for twenty minutes. But my fiancé asked at the bar anyway, and soon we were led back to the rear seating area (not visible from the door), where the only two open tables in the restaurant were located.
Porters isn’t a huge place, but with such a full house for dinner and drinks, it was obvious that they could’ve used another waiter or bartender to share the load. Our waiter, while clearly very busy, was attentive and friendly, taking the time to run through the beer list and nightly specials for us before we made our selections. We settled on a trio of dips, which rotates nightly, and a fried green tomato and mozzarella appetizer, one of the specials. The dips (artichoke, crab, and a spicy Asian with chicken) came with a pile of soft pita wedges and crisp, miniature breadsticks. It was a sizable portion to split amongst a few people, though I confess I ate the majority of the Asian chicken dip before too much of it could be shared. And while I’m not a fried tomato person myself, I can assure you that the plate was empty when the waiter returned, and that the bite of mozzarella and balsamic I stole was delicious.
For dinner, I opted for a fried chicken sandwich with fries, while my fiancé had the salmon powerhouse sandwich with the house salad. Since I’d filled myself up on the dips earlier in the meal, I didn’t even come close to finishing my sandwich. What I did eat, however, was great – juicy chicken with a crunchy crust topped with melty Swiss cheese and arugula. The bread, a toasted sesame loaf, was sliced thick enough to give the sandwich heft, and toasted to a crisp golden brown. I also particularly enjoyed the house salad – the dressing was flavorful and in perfect ratio to the vegetables. I surrendered most of my fries (sprinkled with Old Bay, of course) to be able to finish the rest of the salad, while my fiancé finished his whole sandwich and the rest of mine. We finished our Resurrection Ales and headed out, and I noticed, as we stepped out the door, that the bar area was still every bit as crowded as when we arrived. So while Porters might be a few blocks off the bustle of Cross and Light Streets, it’s worth a trip – just don’t expect a quiet room with empty bar stools.