Friday, May 01, 2009

The Red Porch Experience

"Whether the ballpark is packed with fans or there is a modest turnout, we are always jammed with people here," stated Mario Gonzalez, Manager of The Red Porch Restaurant at Nationals Park. "We've quickly become a destination spot for many, both before and during any Nationals Baseball Game."

Much like the always successful Red Loft Bar located just above The Red Porch.

The time was 5:30PM and The African Queen and I were chatting with Mr. Gonzalez seated at one of the field side tables overlooking centerfield at Nationals Park. Our Washington Nationals were taking batting practice. The Red Porch Restaurant was quickly filling to the gills. And we were having a really good time.

On the heels of our first, less than successful experience at The Red Porch earlier in April, Sohna and I gave the freshly revamped Food & Spirits Eatery a second chance. Arriving early at 5PM for the first-come first served seating, last night's experience (April 30th) was well worth our time and effort. Not only was staff friendly and the service quick and efficient, but without a doubt, THE FINEST ASPECT OF THE RED PORCH IS THE VALUE RECEIVED FOR THE PRICE.

You can take your Hot Dog, Coke and Soda $7 Value Menu offered throughout Nationals Parks' Nats Dog stands if you want--that is a decent ballpark deal. But if you are looking for what we would call The Real Value Meal--The Red Porch Restaurant has the better deal for a just a few dollars more. And we are talking $3 more here, not $10 to $15. In the relaxed atmosphere of Centerfield Plaza, we perused the Menu Offerings and started with The BBQ Pulled Chicken Nachos and were pleasantly surprised when the rather large offering was served by our waitress, Sonethia, within five minutes of placing the order.

In fact, our main courses--Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and Cheddar Burger came so rapidly on the heels of the appetizer that we had to have the wait staff pull them both back for a little later--so everything would not get cold as we worked out our way through the enormous serving of BBQ Nachos. First rule learned by us--take our time and order as we see fit to eat. Staff so efficient--food items are prepared quickly--served hot and fresh.

The BBQ Pulled Chicken Nachos was a full meal in and of itself. It may well have served a family of 4. Just Humongous. And it wasn't just The African Queen and I getting anything special. Every single patron's food selection delivered to their respective tables was just as hot, fresh and large in size.

Price Points. And this is the biggest surprise. A pleasant one.

BBQ Pulled Chicken Nachos--$15 (and worth it if you are into this type of comfort food).

Buffalo Burger, with spicy fries and fixings--$10

Cheddar Burger, with spicy fries and fixings--$11 And we understand that The Red Porch Burger is not Five Guys, but Sohna's burger was grilled, tasty and was slightly cheaper in price (when you add in fries) than the popular Chain Restaurant located on The Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk.

The absolutely fabulous looking Sizzling Ancho-Chicken Salad (which we didn't order but wished we did after another couple sitting next to us ordered this tasty looking meal)--$11

For desert, the largest Warm Fudge Sundae we've certainly ever eaten at a ballpark. So good, we couldn't finish the one we shared. Cost $9.

Sure, there were the mico-brews, drafts and bottled beers that so many other fans have asked for. Not our cup of tea though all priced in the $7.50 to $8.50 range.

But what made this experience extremely special was sitting in a restaurant, overlooking the baseball diamond, relaxing and enjoying a meal, chatting, all the while taking a gander at Batting Practice, talking about some of the players on the field practicing for both Our Washington Nationals and The St.Louis Cardinals.

Clearly, others were having a good time as well. Just click on some of the pictures to enlarge and look at the smiling faces. Our Washington Nationals and Levy Restaurants are onto something here. A hangout for fans to enjoy baseball with friends and family without being disconnected from the ball game playing out in front of them. And it's open for service to ANYONE that purchases a ticket to any game at Nationals Park. The Red Porch is not exclusive to any premium seat holders at the South Capitol Street Ballpark. Everyone is invited.

This latest Red Porch Experience was different, fun and well worth our time and effort. Count of it, The African Queen and I will be making some repeat appearances at The Red Porch throughout the 2009 Season of Major League Baseball at Nationals Park.

Other items of interest:

New Furnishings--tables and chairs will be redecorating The Red Porch in the very near future. Currently, last year's decor for seating is being used. The New Furnishings are currently on their way from Italy. Upon arrival, The Red Porch will get another fresh new look.

The blown out walls on both the Centerfield Plaza and Ballfield sides of The Red Porch has really opened up the ambiance. No longer does The Eatery have that enclosed, claustrophobic feeling to it.

Love the Red Curly "W" Hand Dryers in the restrooms.

Finally--here's the complete Red Porch menu. Just click on any picture to enlarge and read.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


paul said...

Is Tony Soprano's cardiologist available, you know, just in case? Other than the impending angioplasty it looks like a fun time!

Natzzzzzz said...

$12 vodka tonics do not sound like a great value to me.

Dave said...

Not a single vegetarian item (except for desserts). Very disappointing. I won't be eating there, I'm sorry to say. Looks like a nice place.

Anonymous said...

Dave - did you actually look at the menu photos, or just read the post? Not a ton for vegetarians, but at least a couple of options.

May try to check it out today, hopefully won't be packed given the weather.

Dave said...

Anonymous (10:49 AM): "Dave - did you actually look at the menu photos, or just read the post? Not a ton for vegetarians, but at least a couple of options."

Sorry, you're right. If I want Mile High Nachos Grande or a Caesar Salad I'm set.

Nevertheless, there are better places in the park for me to get something to eat, that's for sure.

Twi said...

There's not a lot of current information at all on the particulars of the Red Porch restaurant. Great post -- thanks for posting it!!

John R. said...

Thanks for the review. I walked through the Red Porch a few times last year but never ate there. It just did not WOW me enough to spend the time there, but your positive review will cause me to give it a second chance. And I really appreciate being able to see the whole menu at home so I can plan ahead.

The food prices are comparable to the rest of the ballpark, but whenever I see a menu where the prices do not include decimal points, I know it's pricey, and it often scares me off. It's like they aren't even trying to pretend that they are inexpensive! But, again, I do realize that it's really all the same once you're within the confines of the ballpark.

Sean said...

How long can you stay to eat? Do they try to usher you out after you're done with your meal, or can you linger longer as long as you continue to order drinks? Do people watch the whole game from the porch?

Screech's Best Friend said...

Sean: We were not ushered to move along or get up from our table. But we did leave before the game watch from our seats. I would imagine as long as you are still ordering, there would be no problem. But lets us know your experience if you do try it out. Thanks.

Eleanor Miller said...

Appreciate the info. Hope we can just hang and graze at the bar as long as we're ordering. Miz E

Eleanor Miller said...

Thanks for all the cool info, especially that you don't have to have a premium ticket to hang at the Red Porch as long as you order. Love, too, seeing that folks what real food options, as wonderful as sodium is to the tastebuds.

Priya said...

I just found your blog when "googling" the Red Porch Restaurant. Great information! Do you know what time it opens, and is there usually a long wait? What time would you recommend getting there to guarantee seating? Thanks!

Screech's Best Friend said...

Priya: Thanks for reading. When Sohna and I eat at The Red Porch we tend to get there by 5PM for a 7PM Start game. The Restaurant opens 2 hours and 30 minutes before game time. The same time the Center Field Gates Open. The best seats are the three rows of tables that line left field at Nationals Park. The top row is mostly in the shade, the other three usually in the sun. From these seats you can watch batting practice and be outside eating your meal at the same time. There are no reservations, first come, first served on those rows of seating. Hope that helps. Enjoy.