Dining Review: Porterhouse and beyond

Porterhouse at the Tel Mond industrial district is a real meaty treat.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The Tel Mond industrial district's Porterhouse restaurant is celebrating its first year of operation. A meat lover's haven, the eatery specializes not only in porterhouse steaks but in many other cuts of beef - all domestic and aged on the premises. The ranch-style interior is welcoming. Wide booths seating four line one wall, while the main dining area has larger tables for groups and families. A large L-shaped bar separates the main dining room from the grill area where chefs, in full view of diners, are busy preparing the meat. The first-course menu lists only six items: The emphasis is on meat, and we were warned that the helpings are large and to go easy. Nevertheless, I decided to try the steak tartare, which was one of the day's specials. One of my favorite dishes when prepared correctly, tartare is ground lean raw beef, usually fillet, served with onions, capers and Worcestershire sauce, topped with a raw egg yolk; the diners prepare and mix the ingredients themselves. Imagine my surprise when the anticipated dish arrived topped with a fried egg (albeit a beautiful little fried egg) and none of the other accompaniments! The meat was bland, seasoned only with celery, and although I added salt and pepper, it didn't improve. When I asked chef Yossi Ashraf why he hadn't prepared his tartare in a more traditional way, his terse response was: "We like to do things differently." On the other hand, I was told that the fried sweetbreads were extremely savory. The various first-course options cost from NIS 20 to 40. The main courses are what the restaurant is rightly famous for: Porterhouse for two costs NIS 210; 300-gram entrecote and rib-eye steaks go for NIS 95, with a 650-gram version priced at NIS 186. Prime rib, T-bone, sirloin, rump and tenderloin steaks are offered as well, in addition to hamburgers, lamb chops and lamb kebabs. Ashraf also offers a 1.5-kilo sampler platter for NIS 320, which includes rib-eye, sirloin, rump, chorizo and lamb kebabs. All main courses are accompanied by salad, sauces and chips or baked potatoes. Because my dining partner and I differ in the way we like our meat cooked, we decided not to opt for any of the "for two" selections and ordered a sirloin and a small T-bone. While the sirloin came perfectly cooked (medium rare), my companion's T-bone, which was ordered medium well done, arrived blue and had to be sent back twice for further cooking. Chef Ashraf arrived at our table with a surprise to enhance our meal, a small dish of fleur de sel - hand-harvested sea salt from the coast of Brittany. The service was impeccable (once the staff got the cooking right) and the steaks were absolutely delicious and melted in the mouth. Deserts are also on the menu, but I very much doubt if, after the quantity of meat eaten, one would have room. Porterhouse has its own house red wine bottled specially for the restaurant, a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot - a variety of black grape which ripens late and whose main use is to add aroma, acid and tannin to other wines. It has a bit of a tannin aftertaste, but it's still good with beef, and is available for NIS 85 a bottle. The restaurant's new smoking-area patio seats 30 in addition to the 70 seats inside. Porterhouse; Derech Bnei Dror 8, Tel Mond Industrial Zone; (09) 796-9666; 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. - late Sunday to Thursday, 12 p.m. - late Friday and Saturday; not kosher.