It’s a Beautiful (Restaurant) in the Neighborhood…
I go to school at the University of Pittsburgh, and for those who are not familiar with the area, the encompassing neighborhood of the school is Oakland. The neighborhood is a cross between your traditional college town, with dive bars, cheap fast food restaurants, and university buildings, and a suburban business district, with hospitals and technology startups on every block. This eclectic mix of old and new, professional and, dare I say, trashy (if you’ve ever been to some of the bars that is), means that a nice restaurant might not find its market here. However, one concept certainly has found its groove, smack dab in the middle of Oakland. The eatery includes wine and beer on tap, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, and even a roof-top garden! Unheard of in a college town but The Porch at Schenley is paving the way for a new dining establishment in urban-esque areas. I am certainly no stranger to The Porch, but for this review, one of my best friends and just an all-around amazing human being Teresa Leatherow gives you here take on this Oakland favorite.
A bright and open space welcomes you into the main dining area of The Porch, where the atmosphere is casual and the conversations aren’t too loud. The space is overall very comforting, since The Porch isn’t trying to be anything it isn’t. On top of that, diners get beautiful views of the Schenley Plaza area, making people watching a very tempting activity.
The Porch has always done a fantastic job with service, potentially due to the amount of staff on hand at any given time. Everyone is quick and friendly, and while the flurry of activity would create chaos for most restaurants, The Porch controls this chaos. The attentiveness did waver toward the end, so if anything prolonged consistency of service needs work.
When I mentioned above that The Porch isn’t trying to be anything it isn’t, the food might be somewhat of an exception, but in the best way possible. Chefs at The Porch get creative with some dishes I’ve had, including the Bianca, a pizza with fig jam, goat cheese and arugula or the crispy taters with a curry ketchup.
Because Teresa and I went for brunch, we had the best of both worlds: we split a cast iron skillet of cinnamon rolls, followed by an Eggs Benedict for myself and a grilled chicken sandwich for Teresa. I’m usually a sucker for the cinnamon rolls, but they always seem to come out a bit too dry for my liking. As for the Eggs Benedict, the dish is definitely one of my favorites, always artfully done and full of flavor with each bite. The accompanying taters and curry ketchup are also very good, and the different textures of my whole meal, from the crunch of the taters to the smooth béarnaise sauce, creates a great sensory experience.
A $14 Eggs Benedict, with taters, plus $2.50 for coffee (unlimited refills) and $5 for cinnamon rolls makes for an incredibly valuable $20 brunch. You’re hard pressed to get such a great deal anywhere else in the city, let alone Oakland.
The Porch creates simply elegance. It focuses on excellent service and unique takes on comfort and healthy food without the price. For a college town, The Porch is a jewel to have, and makes any day in the neighborhood that much more beautiful.
1) What was the best part of your experience?
– the company I had
– consuming a meal that could be enjoyed in an atmosphere above the level of where an average college student usually dines
– feeling more “sophisticated” and sitting down to eat a meal for longer than five minutes
2) What needs the most improvement?
– as one of the better dining options in the Oakland neighborhood, brunch is a popular meal to go here for; in terms of improvement, staff could have been slightly more attentive considering the price point (relative to a student budget)
3) What kind of place is this (who would bring you here, for what purpose, etc.)?
– a date, a good friend, someone visiting the Oakland area; it is a good representation of the neighborhood
– it is likely to have a desirable menu item for each customer
– modern atmosphere
4) Describe your meal
– I had a grilled chicken sandwich served with a side of roasted potatoes- it was delicious!
– the portion was perfect (also having consumed a cinnamon roll) and made it so I did not need to eat much beyond a snack for the remainder of the day
Teresa Leatherow is a rising junior at the University of Pittsburgh studying business (supply chain management and business information systems) and engineering (sustainability, industrial and environmental applications).
The Porch at Schenley is a modern Americana bistro in the heart of Oakland, serving an “eclectic mix of familiar food with things that are altogether surprising and new.” To see their menu and find out when the best time to go is (they don’t take reservations) visit their website: www.theporchatschenley.com