Poogan’s Porch sits on Queen Street in its restored Victorian glory with knotted heart-of-pine floors, a dual staircase, and both first- and second-story porches. It’s named after the neighborhood hound who greeted customers when the restaurant first opened in 1976.
The restaurant welcomes diners into a beautiful Southern setting. It’s December, so we are greeted with a small Christmas tree, pine-lined staircases, and white lights everywhere, then led to a small charming table in front of a crackling fire.
A basket of two gratis biscuits starts things off. They’re sweet and soft, served with whipped honey butter that needs a sprinkling of salt. Next, pimento cheese fritters. Their crispy outsides give way to a gooey, slightly tangy center that’s almost too salty until you pair it with the sweet green tomato jam.
Compart Duroc pork ribs are smoked “low and slow” three doors down at Poogan’s Smokehouse. They use three different woods over the course of six to eight hours, starting with hickory, then white oak, then cherry; the latter is sweeter and cuts the smoky taste. At the Porch, the ribs are flash-grilled, then topped with a tomato-based sauce and sprinkling of ham dust. Yes, ham dust. It’s country ham that has been dehydrated then whipped to smithereens in a food processor. It adds a salty flourish to succulent ribs. Crunchy garlic pickles round things out.
Poogan’s fried chicken is famous, but our sweet-as-honey waitress steers us to a fried pork chop. It is enormous, enough for three or four people. You can hear the crunch of the country-fried outside across the table; inside, the pork chop is thick and juicy. Underneath the meat is a slightly spicy gravy atop deliciously seasoned roasted Brussels and sweet potatoes.
The front hall is filled with framed menus from recognizable chefs and pictures of pop culture celebrities. And in good Charleston ghost-history lore, Poogan is said to haunt the restaurant along with former resident Zoe. We saw neither during our visit. And I’m OK with that.