10 Columbus Circle (Time Warner Center)
TYPE: American steakhouse
VIBE: Simple elegance OCCASION: A business dinner or romantic dinner DON’T MISS DISH: Porterhouse Steak DON’T BOTHER DISH: Ginger Carrots DRINK SPECIALTY: American-focused Wine List PRICE: $60 & up HOURS: Dinner, Monday through Thursday 5 PM – 10:30 PM; Friday & Saturday, 5 PM – 11 PM. RESERVATIONS: Reservations recommended. INSIDE SCOOP: Order a Diamond Cain RESTAURANT GIRL RATES (1-10): 6.5 (good to very good) FINAL WORD: With a dazzling park view, Porter House manages to make a woman feel like she’s being taken
somewhere special, while still being a steakhouse a man can sink his teeth into.
Michael Lomonaco, of Windows on the
World and The 21 Club fame, has inherited this park view space, formerly
home to the Jean-Georges’ ill-fated V steakhouse, a garrulously over-the-top exercise
in butcher shop chic. Lomonaco steps up to the plate, attempting to succeed where Jean-Georges has failed.
Some chefs might venture a completely different direction with the cuisine,
perhaps Italian or Asian, but Lomonaco replaces a steakhouse
with a steakhouse, and this one is a decidedly more mellow affair. He’s created a refined surf-and-turf menu, a tribute to American beef, seafood, wine and locally sourced produce. Designer Jeffrey Beers has stripped the old V space of its ornate
chandeliers and red & gold accents, replacing them with cherry wood
finishes, beige carpets and cozy leather chairs & booths.
I sidled up to a
dark wood bar with two flat-screen TVs and a gaggle of
men in suits catching the end of the Mets game, a refreshingly casual
gesture I didn’t expect to find in a restaurant under the same roof
as Per Se, Masa and Cafe Grey. Leaving my cocktail choice in the
trusting hands of the bartender, he delivered me a Diamond Cain – a refreshingly seasonal blend of Rye, Green Chartreuse, & Calvados – topped off with a fresh sprig
After lingering at the bar for a bit, I wandered over to a linen-covered table with a stunning view of Central Park. I selected a Logan Pinot Noir 2003 ($50 a bottle), a medium-bodied red wine with bright berry notes, an excellent red meat companion. Deliberating between a tequila-cured salmon and a more traditional oyster pan roast, I instead opted for the sea scallops; pan-seared in a delicately sweet brown butter sauce, the silkiness of the glistening scallops was nicely offset by the gentle crunchiness of a flash-fried parsley topping.
The porterhouse is the ultimate cut of meat, a tenderloin and strip in one blessed steak. Porter House’s $78 broiled rendition arrives sans the $77 Peter Luger’s signature pool of butter. Personally, I prefer to taste my meat in all its fatty glory without that extra stick of butter, so I was pleased with Lomonaco’s presentation. Unfortunately, they both make the same mistake of slicing the steak before it arrives at the table, a common practice that makes the act of eating an admittedly more genteel experience, but also lets the precious juices escape from the bone-in cut before reaching the plate. Pre-slicing aside, the meat was supple and wonderfully charred, simply seasoned with salt & pepper. While the homemade potato chips made for a satisfyingly salty accompaniment (although they could’ve spent more time in the fryer), the overly sweet, ginger roasted carrots, drizzled in wild flower honey, were too delicate and cloying a match for any meat dish.
Except perhaps for the view, nothing about Porter House is momentous or unabashedly innovative, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when it comes to steak, which should be served in all its unadulterated splendor. Lomonaco’s simple but polished cooking talent is exemplified in an uncomplicated side of beets, perfectly roasted and beautifully accented with mustard seeds and dill. Though, some of his sides could do with some spiffing up, perhaps an added weightiness to suit the succulence of the steaks: Why not crumble a little gorgonzola on the potato chips or top the carrots off with bacon? Porter House succeeds in avoiding the trendy twists that many of the newfangled steakhouses have given into simply to keep up with the Joneses, not to mention Lomonaco’s mastery of steak charring. And for this, I was greatly satisfied.
Until we eat again,
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