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Friday
Feb162007

Porter House New York revisited

porterhousefull.jpg

Note: Click here for a more recent review of Porter House New York.

I first tried Porter House New York last October during its opening week. A 20% introductory discount was in place, perhaps because the management knew to expect some rough going. And that’s exactly what we found. By late November, Frank Bruni was no more impressed. He awarded the same one star that I had given it, finding Porter House a “generically sophisticated upgrade of the kind of chain establishment found in lesser malls…an M.B.A. program for beef eaters who did undergraduate work at Outback.”

My mom’s visit this week provided the excuse to see if things have improved at Porter House. And indeed they have. Service was the best I have encountered at any New York steakhouse. At least five people must have said “Good evening” to us before we had even sat down. The number of servers, runners, sommeliers and managers paying attention to our table—every table—was nearly enough to put Porter House in Per Se’s league.

On the way out, I had a brief chat with the manager. He actually knew my name, even though we hadn’t spoken at all during the meal. Now, that’s service.

porterhouse.jpgThere are rotating specials for each night of the week. We both had the Thursday special, Cowboy Steak ($38), a large rib steak on the bone that is typical of the ribeye most NYC steakhouses serve. The reason for offering this only on Thursdays utterly eludes me, when so many of Porter House’s competitors serve it every night. (The every-day menu has a chili-rubbed ribeye at the same price, which, unless they have changed it, is served off the bone.)

Anyhow, it was expertly prepared and very close to top-quality; perhaps a notch below the better specimens I’ve had around town, although not by much. We sampled three sauces along with it, of which the best was an excellent Classic Bearnaise.

The wine list is very expensive, with no choices below $50, and very few below $75. We found a fine Cabernet Franc at around the $60 mark. We had tap water with that, which I mention only because it specifically contravened the wishes of the chef! Every restaurant tries to sell you bottled water, but this was the first time that a server has ever said, “The chef recommends bottled water this evening.”

Luckily for Porter House and chef Michael Lomonaco, Frank Bruni’s unfavorable Times review was irrelevant: business remains brisk. This isn’t exactly a surprise, as it’s tough to kill a steakhouse. But unlike the mass of undifferentiated steakhouses in New York, Porter House is special. With superb service, postcard views of Central Park, an extremely comfortable atmosphere, and very solid work from the kitchen, Porter House can now be strongly recommended.

Porter House New York (Time-Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, 4th floor)

Food: *½
Service: ***
Ambiance: **½
Overall: **

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