The Porch, which opened Monday, September 12th offers an American Smokehouse menu with Cajun influences and live music in Harlem’s Sugar Hill. Operated by musicians and restaurant industry veterans, The Porch is a destination for BBQ, drinks and live music. The music program will pay homage to Harlem’s musical heritage and feature local musicians in residency. Owner Mark Miller, who lives in the neighborhood, has been a touring musician himself and was a founding partner of Hex & Company, two uptown boardgame cafés. COO Paul Schermerhorn, who oversees the beverage program and operations, has worked for Jean Georges’ The Mark and with Fabio Trabocchi in Washington D.C.
Executive Chef Matt Fisher, formerly the pitmaster at NYC BBQ spots including Rub BBQ, Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue and Dinosaur Barbecue, oversees the kitchen. Fisher’s menu focuses on American smokehouse and Cajun favorites as well as Pacific Northwest style house-smoked fish with a rotating selection to include house smoked salmon and cod, jerk salmon, Bluefish Pate in season (made with fish caught by the Chef de Cuisine Hassan Salim off Coney Island), and more. The menu includes dishes like hickory smoked Baby Back Ribs and BBQ chicken (either half or whole), housemade Vegan Hot Italian Sausage served in a toasted brioche bun with peppers and onions – Chef Hassan makes his own vegan protein in house; Chicken or Meatless Nuggets with Comeback Sauce; Shrimp Beignets; Roast Beef Po Boy with Debris (drippings and trimmings that fall off roast beef during cooking) on a hero; Cajun Shrimp in Smoked Shallot Butter with farro; Crispy Confit Turkey Wings (available late night) and sides like Peanut Slaw, among others. Rotating dinner BBQ sandwich specials include house smoked brisket and pork butt. The BBQ items are served in portions meant for sharing.
The Porch aims to be the new voice of jazz in Sugar Hill, an area that once had seven live music venues in the space of a few blocks – now all gone. It’s also celebrating the history of Sugar Hill, the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and jazz scene of the 1930s, while highlighting Harlem’s musicians and artists of today. The live music program in partnership with Harlem Late Night Jazz and curated by Musical Director Lee Hogans, a jazz musician and educator who is also the Chief Education Officer of the Harlem School for the Arts, will be rooted in jazz but with modern influences of R&B, reggae and hip-hop that make the music more accessible to younger audiences. Local artists in residency including Lee Hogans, Willerm Delisfort, Russell Hall and AC Lincoln will perform 1 – 2 times a month. Additional performances will take place every Thursday – Sunday at 9pm with an affordable cover of around $10-$15.
The interior (by a Harlem architect and an acoustic engineer) features an open kitchen, 6-seat bar, and dining room outfitted with vintage pieces like a 1940s standing radio used as the host stand, cast glass by Oakland glass artist John Lewis, a vintage Evans gambling wheel from Illinois, a 1950s back bar mirror from the Plaza Hotel, and bar shelves from reclaimed wood from nearby St. Nick’s Pub, one of the oldest jazz clubs in Harlem, which burned down in a fire in 2018. Seating for around 70 indoors and another 45 communal seats on the large exterior patio, which will feature a mural painted by a local artist.