A bucket of chicken.
Tonight I had dinner with Shannon and Jen Joseph, the woman behind Manic D Press , one of my long time favorite book publishers in SF. When Shannon told me that Jen wanted to take me out to dinner to discuss publicity for Pet Noir, the book Shannon is publishing with Manic D, I was a little surprised. Sure, I work for a well-known publishing house, but Jen’s been doing this for 23 years. We tried going to Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack but there was a wait and judging from the sounds pouring out I’m sure we would have been yelling over hipsters talking about how fucked up they got at Pops this week-end through out the meal. I’ll reveal right now that I’ve admired Jen from afar for a while. Manic D was such a part of my formative years in San Francisco, the years when I would follow Sister Spit from venue to venue, jealously watching as those bad ass women belted out their unapologetic poetry to packed houses. I didn’t know what to expect when I moved to SF as a young, eager writer, but I couldn’t have been more pleased with who I discovered here, Justin Chin, Beth Lisick, Michelle Tea, so many of whom have been published by Jen through Manic D Press. Manic D was and remains so quintessentially San Francisco to me, fiercely independent and dedicated to publishing new voices. McSweeney's and City Lights may get all the press, but Manic D deserves it more, they take chances and don’t just publish friends of friends who already have name recognition. In a snark filled world (and I don’t deny I both take part and enjoy it) Manic D remains sincere and true. Jen mentioned how out of place this makes Manic D, how they fit more into another decade, but I disagree, the snark will cycle out but there will always be a place for good, honest writing. Anyway, Jen suggested Front Porch and I was so happy to be dining with these fine ladies I kept it to myself that I had dinner plans there the next night as well. I said that I had been before, the food was great and we should definitely go. Considering that every review I’ve read of Front Porch mentions a 45-minute wait, and that’s about how long we waited when I ate there with K & C, it was a surprise to walk right in and be able to pick our table. So if you want to go to Front Porch and not wait in line, try a Monday night around 7pm. About a half hour after we had been seated the place started to fill up and towards the end of the dinner, while we were comfortably chatting away, in our own little world, I looked up and the bar was just packed with people waiting for a table. Last time I was at Front Porch I had the fish and chips, which were some of the best I’ve ever had, fried to perfection but still moist and flaky on the inside. Jen suggested the bucket of chicken this time, which was fantastic and surprisingly not a bit greasy. They know how to fry food there. I’m a big fan of their sides, black-eyed peas, corn, and my favorite, this porridge/grits dish with chili oil. The place just feels good, I like the low tin ceilings and jugs of water they put on every table. I could have listened to Jen tell stories all night, the woman knows just about everyone in the literary scene in SF and it was great hearing some inside stories on some writers I’ve long admired. At one point Shannon turned to me and said “do you still have a crush on him now?” referring to a writer who I’ve sworn I’ll marry one day. Since I can’t remember what Jen said to keep to myself I won’t share any of it here. But I will tell you that if you go to Front Porch you shouldn’t skip dessert. When I was there with K and C we split a big piece of yellow cake with chocolate frosting, which we all agreed was Duncan Hines from top to bottom (this is a good thing). And last night the three of us split the dessert special, I can’t remember the name, I think it was brioche fried like French toast sandwiched with chocolate in the middle, topped with crème fraise and a cherry, swimming in some amazing sauce. Yum.