Porterhouse Bistro

The building on Wilshire that once housed Andre’s of Beverly Hills got a new tenant ten or twelve years ago — a great place to eat steak called the Porterhouse Bistro. They had other tempting things on their menu besides Porterhouse Bistro and I suppose they were quite good but somehow, I never got around to sampling them in all my visits. Usually, I’d take one or more friends and then one of them and I would share the steak for two on the prix fixe menu.

There are a number of upscale steakhouses in Beverly Hills, all serving quality meat. With some though, the pricing and atmosphere make you feel they expect all diners to either be very wealthy or (more likely) on someone’s expense account. F’rinstance, the beef at Mastro’s is quite fine but I find the dining room cramped and loud, the service aggressively-attentive and the check a bit high for what you get. It isn’t so much the money as that feeling that someone played you for a bit of a sucker. I might not feel that way if the mood was conducive to sitting around and chatting with your companions after the meal but the room doesn’t lend itself to that.  It’s kind of an “eat and get out” place.

Porterhouse Bistro closed about a year ago…a great loss as it was the perfect place for steak. It was rarely crowded, which I suppose is the main reason it’s on this site now. They lowered prices by not having eleven busboys hovering to scrape the crumbs off your table. The room was quiet. About all you could hear from the next table was the sound of someone really, really enjoying their steak.

Their prix fixe menu gave you the following. There was a baguette from the La Brea Bakery accompanied by a house tapenade, tomato bruschetta, a whole roasted garlic flower and butter. Then for the next course, you could choose from an array of salads and soups. I usually went for a large onion soup that always arrived at the table at volcanic temperature. It came in a bowl with a puff pastry baked onto the top and you’d use your spoon to poke a hole in it and let massive quantities of steam escape.  It was pretty good soup.

Next came the entree.  You could have a T-Bone, a Rib Eye, a Filet Mignon, a Flat Iron, a Rack of Lamb, Whitefish, chicken a couple different ways or one of several other possibilities.  I always participated in the 24 ounce Porterhouse Steak for two which came sizzling hot on its plate and pre-carved into smaller chunks to transfer to your dish for further carving. It was as good as any steak I’ve ever had anywhere. The side dishes were small in size but pretty good, especially the fries. If you were sharing with someone else, each of you got to pick one. Dessert followed and your choices included a great chocolate lava cake or apple tart…oh, and with your meal, you got two beverages and could pick from the house wine, a list of cocktails, soft drinks, coffee, tea or milk.

Price for all this? $44.00 a person, more on holidays. If you figure what this would run you elsewhere in Beverly Hills, it was a steal.  Last time I was at Mastro’s, the 24 ounce Porterhouse was $39.95 a la carte and a like number of not-quite-as-good fries were $7.50.

A gent named Bobby Burton ran the place and I’m sorry he couldn’t keep the doors open. I think its location — away from the main action of the city — is what did it in. Since it went away, I have shifted my steak allegiance to Wolfgang’s Steakhouse on Canon Drive, where the cuisine is a near-clone of the great Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn but with a plusher atmosphere and a wider menu. I hope it will never join the other restaurants on this site.

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