Review: Porter & Rye

One of many new restaurants to pop up in the very popular Finnieston area, Porter & Rye, boasts a rather strange mix of molecular fine dining with a traditional steak house.  With rave reviews since the day it opened its doors, I’ve been dying to pay it a visit, and this weekend I finally did.

Porter & Rye Bar

From the outside, Porter & Rye doesn’t look like much, nestled next to The Finnieston, it almost looks like an old shop front.  We headed inside to find a small space that had been very well utilised, with seating upstairs and a long, tall bar covering the right side of the restaurant.  We were greeted and taken to our table which was situated on the upper level overlooking the restaurant.  As we walked by the kitchen, I noticed that just next to it was a massive fridge full of hanging meat, which looked right out onto the staircase.  Each cut had a slate sign attached to it showing where the meat was from and how long it had been hanging.  A nice touch, I thought, but certainly not somewhere to take your vegetarian friends!

Above the hanging meat, and the only element of the décor I had an issue with, was a rather unsettling piece of art that showed the head of a highland cow with human eyes and lips.  It freaked me right out, but the rest of the décor was trendy and relaxed, with all wooden floors and benches.

After we sat down, we were handed menus and brought a slate which had written on it the steaks and prices of the day.  All of the meat comes from Gaindykehead Farm in Airdrie, the waitress informed us, as she went through each cut and price on the list.  She then told us about the special they had on: a 28oz, 50 day aged Porterhouse, designed to be split between two people.  The second that Sam heard those words, his eyes lit up and I knew he was going to make me order it with him – it was pay day after all!

We placed our orders and were brought our wine – a bottle of Australian Shiraz called “The Black Craft” which was lovely – and a small wooden crate carrying two brioche buns and a pot of butter sprinkled with sea salt.  The bread was slightly sweet, balanced out by the salty butter, and soft.  We’d barely finished our bread when our starters arrived and this is where things got interesting.

The molecular aspect of the cooking is all in the starters and desserts, and it was emphasised when Sam’s Lightly-Smoked Beef Carpaccio arrived covered with a glass cloche filled with smoke.  The plate was sat down and the cloche lifted to reveal a beautifully dressed plate and a faint aroma of smoke.  Sam allowed me one small bite, and the meat was melt-in-the-mouth perfect, with a light smoked flavour, and crunchy, sweet candied walnuts.

My dish was the Pan-Seared Venison Haunch, with salt baked celeriac, sherbet blackberries & port jus.  The plate looked stunning, and it was immediately clear how perfectly cooked the meat was (on the rare side) and how smooth and shiny the jus was – and it tasted just as good as it looked.  The meat was super tender and full of flavour, the celeriac added an earthiness, the blackberries sweetness, and it was all pulled together by that rich, amazing port jus.

After our starters were cleared away, the waitress brought over a magnetic wooden slab with five steak knives attached so that we could select our own, which I felt really enhanced the whole experience.  Sam naturally went for the largest one, while I went for a serrated silver knife.  Shortly after, our massive steak arrived, and when it was sat down in front of us, I felt a little nervous about how on earth we were going to get through all that meat!

The Porterhouse, or T-Bone, came off the bone and sliced, but with the bone on the plate in case we wanted to pick at it (which Sam obviously did).  With the steak came two sides and a sauce each.  We ordered truffle salt fries and buttered kale, and I chose the Smoked Garlic & Pink Peppercorn butter, while Sam went for the Blue Cheese with Port butter.  Both of these butters came already melted in adorable little metal pails, for pouring or dipping, though I chose the sample the steak as it was before lathering it in any sauce!

We had asked for the steak to be cooked medium-rare, and it was spot on, definitely closer to rare than medium!  I grabbed a slice from the sirloin side and found that it was a little on the tough side, which was a little disappointing, especially as Sam seemed to be in some euphoric state after his first bite!  He told me to try the fillet side, and as soon as I did, I understood.  It was so incredibly tender, with a beautiful flavour and a crisp, charred crust.  I realised the first slice I had taken was from the tail end, and the further up the sirloin I went, the more tender and delicious the meat got.  It was, in all honesty, one of the best steaks I have ever eaten.  The garlic and peppercorn butter was lovely, with a peppery hit and only a subtle garlic flavour, but the steak was so delicious on its own, I barely used it.

After Sam had finished picking the last remnants of meat from the bone, our plates were taken away and we were handed dessert menus.  Now you would think after all of that, we wouldn’t even consider dessert, but honestly, the sides were quite small (but very tasty) and the steak not overly filling, so we were more than happy to order another course!  Sam went for the cheese selection while I ordered the Duo of Flaming Crème Brûlées, and they really do mean flaming.

The two individual crème brûlées were served on a long dish, on fire, and with a big cookie in-between.  After the flames had died out, I tucked into my first crème, flavoured with apple.  The topping mixed with the apple crème underneath gave me the taste of a lovely, warming apple pie.  The custard was smooth and silky and I was surprised by how clear the apple flavour was.  The cookie in the middle was chocolate chip, and clearly made with lots of butter because as soon as I touched it, it began to break apart and reveal lots of molten, dark chocolate chips.  It was heavenly.  My second brûlée was flavoured with wild berry, and was bright pink in colour.  Again, the custard was lovely and smooth, the topping crunchy, but I think I preferred the apple, with its comforting apple pie flavour.

Our bill came to a whopping £136, but considering the steak alone cost £74.95, this seemed almost reasonable.  We knew that it was going to be pricey and we had decided to treat ourselves, so why not just go all out!  If we had chosen a cheaper bottle of wine and a cheaper cut, it would have been under £100.  We left a pretty hefty tip because we were so impressed by the friendly, knowledgeable staff, the service we had received, and most importantly, the food.  It’s not every day you walk out of a restaurant thinking “that’s one of the best meals I’ve ever had” but that night, we definitely did!

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