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Porter House Evolves


I dropped in at Porter House New York last night for a quick bite. On a Thursday evening at around 6:30 p.m., the restaurant was mostly empty. Many servers and runners were just standing around. As in the past, the clientele included a number of families with small children.

I wasn’t that hungry, so I had the Skirt Steak, at $28 the second-cheapest entrée (after the chicken, $27). This is a second-string cut of meat, but Porter House gives it a first-rate preparation, with a nice smokey char and an Argentine chimichurri sauce.

porterhouse_outside.jpgSince my last visit, Porter House has wisely dropped its plats du jour—dishes that are served only one night of the week. The Cowboy Steak, formerly available only on Thursdays, is now offered every day. On a less happy note, that steak was $38 fifteen months ago; it is now $45.

The “porterhouse” conceit has been scaled back. There were once porterhouses not just of beef, but also lamb, veal, pork, and even monkfish; only the beef and the veal options remain. There were once more than half-a-dozen seafood entrées; there are now only four.

There are, of course, other entrées: hangar steak, filet mignon, chili-rubbed ribeye (not worthwhile at $48), lamb chops. But with a few exceptions (“Duck Steak”), the restaurant is evolving closer to the classic steakhouse, albeit with one of the world’s best views.

Bread service remains a strength, with three excellent house-made breads and a soft serving of butter. I didn’t order wine, but the wine list didn’t seem quite as egregiously priced as it was last time. Aside from that, I had a somewhat dour server who seemed displeased with his lot in life. Come to think of it, nobody seemed especially pleased. An empty restaurant will do that.

In a sense, Porter House is a somewhat less interesting restaurant than it was before. But the steaks remain top-notch, and the ambiance is more comfortable than most steakhouses.

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

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

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