Nestled below the high-rises in Irvine’s business district is Porch & Swing, an unexpected escape into the global cuisine of Charleston, South Carolina. Founded by Charleston native Andrew Parish, Porch & Swing presents an homage to the Lowcountry, with an ever-changing menu by Executive Chef Alan Sanz that showcases the under-expressed versatility of Southern cuisine.
Following a storied 15-year career in Southern California’s craft cocktail scene, Parish delved into a new venture with Porch & Swing, which opened in April 2020 amid the height of the pandemic’s mandated shutdowns. The restaurant quickly caught the attention of the community and gained critical acclaim, receiving accolades from Orange Coast Magazine as their 2021 Restaurant of the Year and a top 5 spot on OC Register’s Best New Places to Eat in 2020, to name a few. Since opening, the restaurant has been unwavering in its commitment to true farm-to-table cuisine and an experience rooted in southern hospitality.
“Porch & Swing is an homage to my hometown, the port city and culinary epicenter of Charleston, South Carolina,” comments proprietor and beverage director Andrew Parish. “Our goal is to reframe the generalized understanding of Southern cuisine while upholding its unparalleled standards for warmth and hospitality.”
At the helm of the kitchen is renowned chef Alan Sanz, who has cooked in kitchens around the globe, including Boragó in Chile, Parcela in Mexico City, Epicure in France, and Mugaritz in Spain. His time spent with chefs Rodolfo Guzmán, Edgar Nuñez, Éric Fréchon, Francis Mallman, and Andoni Andruiz is reflected in his dishes at Porch & Swing. Rooted in Charleston-inspired cuisine, his dishes offer a foray into his comprehensive grasp of global techniques and expert application of bold flavors.
Each month, Sanz unveils a curated dinner menu consisting of only a few appetizers, entrees, and desserts – each uniquely bold, inventive, and soulful. Crafted with a true farm-to-table approach, the menus often focus on one or two peak-of-season ingredients to highlight their seasonality and versatility. In addition to its ever-changing dinner menu menus, three-course prix-fixe menu for $35 is offered during lunch, and tasting menus (ranging from $75 to $125) with optional wine pairings are offered during dinner. While the lunch and dinner menus change monthly, guests can return for a recurring selection of Porch & Swing classics during the final week of each month. During “Classics Week,” Sanz recreates Porch & Swing favorites, including refreshing starters like yuzu-cured Hamachi and Beef Carpaccio seasoned with chimichurri and dukkah, as well as rich entrees like Pork Jowl with grits and pineapple and slow-cooked Short Rib with au jus and sweet potato.
“Our ever-changing menu began as a training exercise for our culinary team, but it proved to be a true representation of Charleston’s effervescent global dining scene,” comments Sanz. “Our menus showcase the flavors of the world while staying true to the ethos of Southern cuisine. Porch & Swing celebrates the beauty and versatility of local, seasonal ingredients through dishes that capture the southern soul and global flavors of Charleston.”
Porch & Swing’s commitment to seasonality is seen in a cross-utilization of ingredients between the kitchen and bar. Led by Parish, the restaurant’s beverage program mirrors the ethos of the kitchen. A master mixologist with more than 15 years of experience, Parish is responsible for creating some of the most celebrated bar programs in Los Angeles and was dubbed the “Mixologist to the Stars” by Huffington Post. He’s adorned the Porch & Swing bar with a curated selection of bottles from small-batch, boutique distillers and artisan Charleston-based spirits. Cocktails like Southern Storm, Peach Tea-Infused Old Fashioned made with tea imported from Charleston, and Spicy Little Bee are expertly crafted with a touch of Southern whimsy from fresh ingredients, including juices squeezed in house daily and house-made syrups, tinctures, and bitters. An esoteric wine list boasting old-world bottles from France, Italy, and South America and a selection of craft beer further bolsters the beverage program.
Porch & Swing bustles like the city of Charleston itself, proving to be an epicenter of global influence with its monthly-changing menus and series of epicurean events. This summer, guests can look forward to a trio of festivals exploring artisan producers of rum, whiskey, and agave spirits, whiskey dinners with bespoke distillers, and a brunch series titled Around the World in 12 Brunches, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4.
Porch & Swing’s summer festivals include:
Porch & Swing Agave Festival – Sunday, May 21
Porch & Swing Rum Festival – Sunday, June 11
Porch & Swing Beer & Whiskey BBQ – Sunday, July 2