The Porter House Grill, Oxford: August, 2017
Oxford finally has its very own top quality grill house – why go anywhere else? This place achieved The Oxford Bloggers first 8/10 in Oxford!
After a shameless social-media stalking session, I discovered The Porter House Grill & Rooms in Oxford. I discovered it had recently opened in July and I had discovered it serves-up fine steaks and wine. I knew I had to get in touch as, for me, this is something Oxford lacks – dramatically lacks. I asked several friends where they would go if they wanted a hearty steak, their response was similar to mine; after a long pause for thought, they could not answer. Does Oxford need a new grill-house? Absolutely, it seems.
So I got to thinking; why are there no steak-houses in Oxford currently? The only valid reason I could conclude was that meat tends to be pricey and in a city run by students, this is a fair response. However, there are plenty of working professionals with cash on the hip, so why not?The Porter House is situated just out of town, like so many up-and-coming venues; away from
The Porter House is situated just out of town, like so many up-and-coming venues; away from chain-street ally that is, George street. Just by the train station, down an unassuming road, where The Kite pub used to be, sits the newly refurbished Porter House Grill & Rooms. With my overnight case packed I was ready to experience all it had to offer. I arrived to one of the friendliest welcomes in Oxford, sure, I was expected, but you cannot facade genuine pleasantries and a bright-eyed smile. After being shown to my room, review to follow, I was seated in the restaurant room.
There was the main restaurant room and a side room in which breakfast was served for guests or could be a more intimate option for dining. The venue is modern-traditional minimalism. With deep, dark blue walls and brown leather arm chairs, if you looked hard enough you could see cigar smoke wafting from Sir Winston Churchill himself. It was perfect, it reminded me of the kind of club that the tinker-tailor spies of London would often frequent, but without the risk of being poisoned – I hoped!
The tables were laid out just-so without saying fine-dining, but just enough starch in the napkins to reassure you that your food was going to be a real treat.
I was served by Kyle, an energetic self-professed novice front of house member who furthered our ever-growing confidence in the place. He had a gentle, yet professional, manner but his party trick was his knowledge on the food he would be serving. He gave great recommendations and even paired my wine. Whilst some would find that a bit too much, I loved it. I love that staff know about their food and can so boldly say how the dishes work and which wines to have.
For starter, I ordered the deviled duck hearts. It was my second choice, I wanted the roasted bone marrow, however, they were out. But alas, the duck hearts sounded great too. They arrived served with pecan, black pudding, and apple. It worked. The sweetness of the apple helped cut through the hearts, and the black pudding provided a guilty pleasure with the texture enhanced by the pecan. Although deviled I did think the heat was a little too much for my liking. If the heat was turned down just a little it would have been great. I was reaching for table water too much and I didn’t dare ruin my Chiati, so my wine glass remained untouched. After a brief recovery, I waited for the main event.
It was recommended I go for the 1200g Cote de Boeuf to share – as I had company, I thought it only polite we try it… When it arrived on the table my eyes lit-up. I didn’t know whether to Instagram it there and then, inhale it, or cry out “yabba dabba doo!” Although I was transported back to the stone, I did the obvious, I guiltlessly Instagrammed it.
All the meat at The Porter House is dry-aged for up to 42 days in-house and their ager is in the restaurant for all to see. It was great. Top quality meats ageing for all to see, it was just like watching celebrity Big Brother again. It was served with the usual suspects like fries, salad, portabella mushrooms.
I was in paradise. The meat was cooked to perfection and it was like butter melting in my mouth. incredible. It was the best steak I have ever eaten – second to none. All the meat is cooked in a Bertha oven fuelled by oxford-sourced coal at 350 degrees. This rapid method of cooking seals the meat quickly and allows none of that smoky flavour to escape. It provided the perfect seared surface leaving the inside pink and tender. We were not going to leave until we had eaten it, all.
After some time, and a few food-naps later, it was gone. Fully satisfied we looked at the dessert menu, but couldn’t. For the first time ever I genuinely couldn’t eat anymore. We sat there feeling sorry for ourselves drinking the wine and allowing our food to digest.
This place needs to be busy, it was serving top-nosh, was friendly and welcoming, what more could one want? However, the only slight off-put would be that it is, like all top-quality steak houses, pricey – with the cheapest piece of meat starting at £25. This place is a treat. For celebrations and such like, as you would need to own a hedge fund to eat here regularly. That said, it is worth it! I would highly recommend it and encourage everyone to navigate away from the city centre and dine at The Porter House Grill & Rooms.