Where’s the Beef? The Updating of a Classic
Even a classic New York steakhouse has to nip and tuck its presentation every so often to stay a cut above the competition. Porter House Bar and Grill has done just that in advance of its 10th anniversary this fall, with chef and managing partner Michael Lomonaco’s team updating the menu along with the décor. How did they beef up the dining experience? Chef Lomonaco explains.
Q: What’s the secret to keeping your coveted spot among New York’s elite steakhouses for a decade?
You buy great ingredients. You can’t find the kind of meat we buy in a supermarket. We are at the top of the supply chain to buy superb prime aged beef. We prepare (it) simply and precisely.
Q: The dining room feels more open and airy. How did you achieve that?
The goal (was to make) it a contemporary, modern dining room that has international influences. All chairs, banquettes and window treatments have been replaced. The chairs and banquettes are lower in scale, so that makes the room appear bigger and more open. We also added a beautifully crafted glass wine cabinet that separates the dining room from the bar.
Q: What other touches were added?
The old wood bar is now topped with white Carrara marble, with a stainless-steel chrome back-bar and a good deal of mirror surface on one wall. It has made the bar very welcoming, with its own updated menu — burgers made from my own blend of aged prime beef — and a new “reserve cocktail’’ list, showcasing the classics made with high-end products.
Q: You’ve added menu items and re-worked some. What are the highlights?
Keeping the core was very important. We’ve added a double-cut rib eye cote du boeuf, a French classic, big enough to serve two or three. But we wanted to refocus the remainder of the menu in a more seasonal way. Among the appetizers, we’ve added Hamachi crudo marinated with Meyer lemon juice and Calabrian chilies. We’ve taken sea scallops, which were a signature, and now cook them with a hazelnut crust and top them with a dashi sea foam.
Q: Any changes to the wine program?
Our new Coravin wine-preservation system allows us to open reserve bottles of wine and offer them by the glass. It’s fun for the guests to try something really special without having to order a full bottle.