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Porterhouse Bistro (long review)

Tusc | Apr 2, 200603:09 PM

Porterhouse Bistro in Beverly Hills is like a lot of these newer steakhouses. Like Boa, The Lodge, Lincoln, they are trying to come off as more than just an old fashioned place like Morton's or Ruth Chris.

Unfortunately, they all seem to come up way short of beating the old standbys.

The decor at PB is very nice, our server was friendly, and they accomodated kids well. That was the good part. The bad part was the food.

The french onion soup had odd seasonings which really didn't work well. In addition to the melted cheese atop the bowl, they add a layer of puff pastry, which looked nice but aqdded no taste, was pretty dry and actually detracted from the experience. The soup itself seemed to have more things than onions in there, but I couldn't tell what they were, and they didn't taste so terrific, or mesh well together.

The endive salad had a VERY bitter taste to it, the dressing was off, and it was a pretty miserable attempt overall. Yes, they are trying to be different, but it was far from an improvement. The smoked salmon quesadillas were pretty good however, so sometimes creativity pays off.

Now on to the steak.

The 40 oz. Porterhouse was indeed big, and sliced up which helped for sharing... but they loaded the steak with so much pepper and seasonings it was almost inedible. Even after cutting away the layer of spices atop the steak, my mouth was still burning and I didn't taste much. The steak was tender enough, but when my mouth recovered sufficiently, I concluded it was not a high quality piece of meat. It's better than Outback, but laughable when compared to the truly fine steakhouses around town.

That one newspaper reviewer had the gall to compare this porterhouse to Peter Luger was absurd. There is no comparison. It's like comparing Panda to Chinois.

Other entrees weren't bad, the lamb was decent, my sons chicken tenders were ok, and the sides were capable. But that's not why you go to a pricey steakhouse.

The desserts were standard except of course for what has become commonplace at these neuveau steak joints, the billowing pile of cotton candy. It looks cool, and the green apple flavor was, well, differeent anyway. My 7 year old loved it, but the adults at the table had a bite for general interest and had no great desire to pretend we were at a circus. Which ultimately we were -- this is not a serious restaurant, much as they are trying to be.

So it was an expensive meal, fortunately not as pricey as some steakhouses --- but the quality was nowhere near as good as the better steakhouses either.

Next time I'm in the mood for a good steak I'll go back to my standard, which is Nick and Stef's or Arnie Morton's, although the steaks I've had at Capo and Dana Tana's weren't bad either. Or maybe I'll hop a plane to NY and get the best steak in America at Peter Luger's.

While Porterhouse Bistro is certainly better than Boa and the Lodge in terms of both food and service, the meal we had last night at PB just didn't cut it, even for the slightly lower prices.

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