The Porterhouse is a hotel and restaurant with a small cult following due to the fact that they have the best steaks in Oxford. Nestled in a tranquil residential street, a minute’s walk from Said Business School and the rail station, The Porterhouse offers a small and intimate dining experience away from the restaurants in the loud and overexposed Westgate and away from the restaurants in the repetitive and bland George St. With its extremely friendly staff and tranquil atmosphere, it is the perfect place for a first date, casual dinner, or to treat your old man this coming Father’s Day.
The Porterhouse is a place that knows what it is good at. The menu is simple, there are only a handful of options for each course and they make sure their steaks are the highlight. They have a variety of cuts available including a range of dry-aged steaks, each displayed on a chalkboard in each of the restaurant’s two dining rooms, both of which are diligently crossed out following each order. Unfortunately, there is only one vegetarian option, the Portobello grill, and only one pescatarian option, the tuna steak. My more health-conscious friends have told me that both are excellent choices; however it is something to bear in mind when deciding where to eat. It’s probably not the best place to take a vegan on a date, for instance. However, if you’re not put off by the limited menu, and appreciate the restaurant’s clarity in their focus, you’re in for a very enjoyable dining experience!
I first had the opportunity to visit The Porterhouse at the start of this year. It was a friend’s surprise birthday dinner and we had the private dining area, appropriately called the Smoke Room, to ourselves. We ordered a variety of sharing steaks from the chalkboard and waited eagerly for them to arrive. Needless to say, we were very pleased when they did. The wait was a little longer than I would have hoped for, but I suppose that is to be expected when you order the weight equivalent of a new born baby in red meat. Since then, I’ve gone back several times, and have never once been disappointed by my experience!
Most recently, I went twice in 5th Week. On the latter occasion, I was exhausted and had just spent three hours trying to get back to Oxford from London (all the trains out of Paddington were delayed!), and so decided to treat myself at what is by far my favourite restaurant in Oxford. I had the bone marrow as starter, followed by the dry-aged flat iron and finished off with their chocolate fondant and sticky toffee pudding; the man at the table across from me did laugh when half the dessert menu arrived at my table but he seemed to respect it. Their steaks are lovely; I don’t know how to explain it. Its steak is better than all the others I’ve had in Oxford, and you have to try it to understand. But what really makes me keep returning to The Porterhouse is the sticky toffee pudding.
As all my friends could tell you, the highlight of my week is when my college hall has apple crumble or sticky toffee pudding; on many occasions I have dropped everything to run to the dining hall before it closes as soon as my friends text me. It’s somewhat become a joke how much my mood depends on whether I get such texts or not – and when hall is not there to fulfil my cravings, I find myself at The Porterhouse. The sticky toffee pudding is just sublime: it’s the perfect level of sweetness and has a subtle and distinct nutty taste. It’s genuinely one of the best things I’ve had and if you’re not big on your steaks, go to The Porterhouse just for this alone.
At The Porterhouse, you can have steak for breakfast, served to you by lovely and helpful staff, accompanied with a glass of wine or cocktail from their very impressive range, finished off with their impeccable desserts. I cannot imagine a more perfect meal, at least, not in Oxford. It’s a hidden treasure and it’s the kind of place that fits the whole ‘if you know, you know’ notion. Well, now you know, so go.