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Come For the Music, Stay For the Food at The Porch in Harlem

Come For the Music, Stay For the Food at The Porch in Harlem

The Porch is a destination for BBQ, Cajun-inflected American Smokehouse fare, drinks and live music in Harlem’s Sugar Hill. Owner Mark Miller has toured as a musician and is currently a Sugar Hill resident himself. We talked with him about the restaurant, the space and the music program that’s sure to keep guests coming back for more.

The Porch Fuses Food & Music in Harlem

“The most unique aspect of The Porch is the way in which we seamlessly blend the past and the present,” Miller told us. “The wood bar-back shelves are the salvaged ceiling joists from the old St. Nicks Pub, the last of the seven jazz clubs that graced St Nicholas Avenue in Harlem’s Golden Age. These artifacts provide a jumping-off point for the Local Harlem musicians who are featured in our resident artist program, bringing the classic sounds of Jazz in Harlem into the 2020s, adding hip hop, reggae and R&B.”

The Porch Half Rack of Ribs, Potato Salad and House Salad at The Porch New York
The Porch Half Rack of Ribs, Potato Salad and House Salad at The Porch (©Michael Tulipan MST Creative PR)

The Porch’s menu offers a variety of American and Cajun specialties, and Pacific Northwest-style smoked fish. Some highlights include the Bluefish Pate, Roast Beef Po Boys with Debris, a Vegan Hot Italian Sausage and BBQ chicken. The Porch also has a rotating selection of house-smoked fish, so there’s always something new to try.

The music program at The Porch honors the musical history of Harlem while rotating a selection of local NYC musicians. The Porch is already a popular spot for residents and visitors alike, given the quality of the food and drinks and the lively atmosphere. While Sugar Hill was once home to numerous music venues, many have closed, and The Porch hopes to revive the lively jazz scene in the Big Apple.

The Menu at The Porch

“The menu begins with classic Harlem staples and adds modern techniques and sensibilities,” Miller explained. “Executive Chef Matt Fisher is an award-winning NY pitmaster. Our original concept was a full-on wood-fired competition-style BBQ, but New York City, being New York City, made this impractical as we simply did not have enough space. So, we opted for a more modern approach centered around ‘smoke as an ingredient.’ Utilizing a state-of-the-art smoker, we refocused on what we could do without compromise, BBQ baby back ribs and BBQ chicken. Building around these Harlem staples, Chef Matt decided to explore Cajun flavors and dishes which expand on this pallet in unique yet coherent ways.”

The Porch Fish Appetizers at The Porch New York
The Porch Fish Appetizers at The Porch (©Michael Tulipan_MST Creative PR)

With so much to choose from, there’s a flavor for every palate—especially if you love BBQ. “The BBQ Baby Back Ribs are best in town, candied and falling off the bone,” Miller said of the menu. One major standout is The Brisket Sandwich. “For a lighter bite or a late-night snack, I added my own Pacific Northwest style of hot smoked salmon and trout with innovative finishes such as demerara sugar syrup and togarashi (a traditional Japanese seven-spice blend). We also leverage my love of charcuterie and fine cheese to make effortlessly elegant boards.”

Inside The Porch

The Porch’s interior is warm and inviting, with an open kitchen and vintage pieces that outfit the dining room. The indoor space seats around 70, while the outdoor patio has communal seating for an additional 45 diners. The patio also features a stunning mural painted by a local artist.

The Porch Exterior New York
The Porch Exterior (©Michael Tulipan MST Creative PR)

“I think of myself as a ‘Salvage Goblin.’ I’m fascinated by objects that have a sense of history and place to them,” Miller told us about the space. “In addition to the St. Nick’s Pub shelves, our bar features a fully restored Edison Wax Cylinder player to announce happy hour, a working Evans carnival wheel that rewards the generous with the occasional free round, the bar back mirror from the Club Bar in the old Plaza Hotel and my collection of vintage tabletop pinball games. I worked closely with my good friend and extraordinary sculptor Gar Waterman. He was instrumental in creating a simple palette of black metal and stone, brushed stainless steel, distressed red paint, and light natural wood that allow these artful objects to sing. Gar also introduced me to world-class cast glass artisan John Lewis. John allowed us to select some magnificent ‘2nds’ that we built into the space and light to great effect. I also worked with recording studio designer Jim Keller and stage lighting and video designer Dave Steck to make sure that the room looks and sounds its best, especially at night.”

The Porch Dishes Overhead New York
The Porch Dishes Overhead (©Michael Tulipan MST Creative PR)