Porterhouse by Laris review date: August 19, 2015
60 second review so no score
Up again in LKF’s California Tower elevator, past the good but bizarre Japanese joint ore no to a new opening from David Laris. The Greek-Australian has an impressive pedigree, notably as chef/GM at Mezzo, Terence Conran’s mega-eatery which heralded the rise of Cool Britannia in 1995 and with it a sea change in British – well, London – dining habits.
It’s interesting then that Laris’ publicity machine seems a throwback to earlier years – it feels 80’s more than the 90’s. Maybe it’s postmodern irony at play, but gyrating women, sharpening knives, licking lips and bloody slabs of meat doesn’t cut it for me.
The room then is a welcome surprise, elegant, light and spacious. Not a temple to machismo like so many steakhouses. It’s still a recent opener, so not getting a drinks menu or bread while waiting for my fellow luncher seems forgivable. In time, they need to be sharper on their game. Laguiole bread knives, crystal glasses and white linen confirm this isn’t an Aberdeen Angus steak house. They once served a steak so bad that AA Gill said ‘It was like eating one of Enoch Powell’s old speeches‘.
The set comes in at $228 for 2 courses, $248 for 3. My lunch is a subject lesson in bad ordering. Not because my dishes are bad, but because my compadre orders so much more effectively. A spoon of his strange-sounding Parmesan soup is sensational, my tiny crab mound one dimensional in comparison. Serves me right for thinking ‘Jumbo lump crab’ would reference the size of the dish, not the grade of the crustacean it once came from. (The large pieces of meat from the muscle that connects the crab’s powerful back swimming legs are known as lump crabmeat – Jumbo lump consists of the largest of these chunks)
It’s Groundhog Day for the mains. He, with the wisdom of years and a farmer’s knowing eye, goes for a steak while I hit up the ‘Sakura chicken’. It’s a schoolboy error, especially so in a steakhouse. My protein is generous, well charred but still… just chicken. A thin bed of succotash corn doesn’t raise the fun levels. Incidentally ‘Sakura’ is a reference to the brand of chicken used – and nothing to do with the shiso leaves that accompanied it.
Partial salvation is at hand in the form of a homemade mustard parade. It’s not up there with the selection of 15 on offer at the Intercon Steakhouse, but from the six options, the ‘Madras curry’ and ‘Chef’s pickled’ are the standouts.
On the other side of the table, a frankly stellar skirt steak. Skirt is one of the cheaper cuts of beef, from the plate in the front belly of the cow. It is long and flat, generally praised for its flavour rather than tenderness. At Porterhouse it is wet-aged, lightly seasoned, and tender to the point that you could cut through it with a spoon. Well, possibly, but you get the idea. I know what to order next time. Given that Porterhouse is named after a steak, the clues are there.
With a supplement for the steak, 3 glasses of wine and sparkling water, the check comes in at a surprisingly hefty $620 per person. Something tells me I’ll be back, however. I’m intrigued to see their dinner menu. When I do, I’ll be the one ordering a steak.
7/F California Tower, 30-36 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong Tel: +852 2522 6366 http://porterhousebylaris.com.hk/en/