Thursday, August 30, 2007

Porterhouse NY

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Perhaps if I had had the lowered expectations that I would normally reserve for new steakhouses I would not have been as disappointed as I was dining at Porterhouse last week. If you have been following this blog you are probable tired of hearing me complain about the lack of originality in new steakhouse menus. Frankly I feel that steak is handled so well by NYC's traditional steakhouses that there is no reason to frequent new establishments that offer essentially the same menu. How many iterations of steak for two, creamed spinach and hash browns do we really need? Yet recent in depth coverage on Porterhouse by renowned bloggers Jason Perlow from Off the Broiler and the blogfather himself Ed Levine on his personal blog, piqued my interest. Ed Levine went so far as to call it one of the top three steakhouses in NYC. This praise was enough for me put aside my recently established rule of not dining in any new steakhouses that only parrot the menus of existing steakhouses. Well I can say that that law is once again firmly in place.

First the good. The service was excellent, professional and courteous. The room itself is very pleasant to dine in with a wonderful view of Central Park; and is spacious enough that you will be able to have an intimate dinning experience. Some excellent appetizers got the meal off to a good start, the bone marrow was utterly superb as were the fried oysters. A crab cake was just OK, it had a little too much red pepper for my tastes. The sides were also generally good, a credible hash brown did nothing to offend and the creamed spinach was indeed creamy with a refreshing hint of nutmeg. Porterhouse also has an extensive wine list and a knowledgeable wait staff. There is no doubt that this is a restaurant run by professionals with a lot of experience.

Now the bad. The steak was utterly disappointing. Completely lacking the crackling char that one can get at any number of top steakhouses in the city. A strip steak ordered black and blue came out closer to medium rare with virtually no discernible blackness, a similarly ordered T bone had to be sent back because it was cooked closer to medium and again totally lacked char. Although the replacement was indeed blue inside, it was unevenly charred on the outside and frankly was a bit tough and flavorless. Of all the cuts sampled the restaurants name sake, the porterhouse, was the best but still fell way below par. Apart from the rather limp presentation, it totally lacked the majesty of the sputtering, sizzling spectacle that marks the appearance of the porterhouse at Luger's, the porterhouse at Porterhouse just did not have the deep complex mineral rich flavors that one expects from dry aging. The beef was tender enough I suppose and was cooked perfectly rare it never caused me to but down my utensils and marvel at the sheer wonderfulness of the experience.

Top three steakhouses in NYC? It was not even the best steak I ate this week, both Bobby Vans and Pietros offered up far superior meals (reviews to come). I have to say that the one apprehension that I held before dining here was that they do not have their own dry aging room, rather relying on their butcher to age their beef. Dry aging is part of the cooking process. When you serve an unadorned broiled steak most of the flavor and texture has been developed during the preceding weeks. I don't care how much your butcher and you love each other, you are not really working for the same ends.

The deserts also disappointed. A decent cheesecake was probably the safest bet. Everything else was far to sweet and lacking in complexity. The duo of creme brulee was embarrassingly bad, being rather soupy and completely unsubtle in its flavoring. The build your own sundae kit was a tyranny of condiment choices to compliment a very bland vanilla ice cream. So given my expectations a disappointing experience overall. While there is much to like at Porterhouse with the steaks being so lackluster it is hard to recommend. I am hard pressed to explain the drastic discrepancy in my experience and those of the aforementioned well respected bloggers but there you have it.

Porterhouse NY
10 Columbus Circle 4th Floor
NY NY 10019
212 823 9515


jperlow said...

I will say that of the two types of steaks I tried at Porter House, I much preferred the Cowboy Steak to the Porter House steak itself. Not because of the quality of meat -- which is high -- and not because of the cooking method -- which I think was about as perfect as you can expect from a steakhouse -- but because I felt that the bone-in ribeye was significantly beefier tasting.

Nick said...

The bone in rib eye is my favorite cut of beef. I was disappointed that they did not offer it when I dined there, I think it is relegated to being the special on Thursday evenings. They do offer a 60 day aged chili rubbed rib eye from Brandt but unfortunately it is only wet aged! I suppose it would be pointless to dry age such an expensive cut and then mask the flavor with chili. The wet aging will achieve tenderness but I love what dry aging does for flavor.

I must say that the steaks featured in Off the Broiler looked to be significantly better prepared than the ones I tried, but of course the chef himself probably over saw their preparation. I dined there on a weekend at the end of the summer, I can certainly grant that the broilerman had an off night but I still found the steaks lacked the flavor I have come to expect from the competition.

Tell you what Jason, you buy me a rib eye at Porterhouse one Thursday (that is if Lomonaco lets me in) and I will try to buy you a better one at another steakhouse. I have a few rib eyes up my sleeve....

jperlow said...

I certainly won't discount that because Lomonaco prepared it himself for both me and Ed Levine that the experience was optimized. But yeah, its quite possible that by not going there on a prime night may not have shown the meat its best light either. I think you should join us as our guest the next time we go.

Nick said...

I would be honored to dine with you chaps but only if you allow me to return the favor. I'll email you directly and we can set something up for the near future.