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There’s a magic moment with a good piece of meat. A point when good husbandry meets hot plate mastery and it all marries together in your mouth.
You’ve heard people drool about “melt in your mouth” steak. Well, if you’ve ever wondered what they’re on about, take a turn to Winchester’s newest restaurant Porterhouse.
Here, on the far end of Jewry Street, a grill magician nightly turns humble hunks of beef into conversation arresting showstoppers. Forget any memories of fiercely chewy tooth grinding sessions on joyless slabs of gristle.
All the beef at the Porterhouse is raised on the vast grasslands of Argentina and served here in thick cuts, which keep the meat almost impossibly juicy.
The place is named after the Porterhouse steak, a classic flavourful loin cut traditionally served with a glass of porter or strong beer.
It is a star option here, as you’d expect and I eyed it on the menu long and hard. But it weighs 32 ounces and is clearly meant for sharing. Across the table there was outright horror at the thought of being confronted by such an imposing chunk of cow.
After a brief dalliance with the prospect of setting about it manfully myself – reviewer’s duty and all that, the idea was regretfully dropped in the already bulging “Things To Do When She’s Away” folder.
Portions here tend to err on the side of generous anyway. You can have your meat in 10, 12, 16, 18 or sometimes, as above, whopping 32 ounce pieces.
And there’s a choice of tenderloin, rib-eye, sirloin or a hefty T-bone. There is a sheet of other enticing offerings too, like lamb with a spicy crust and a seafood platter. But it’s a steakhouse, so… When my 12oz rib eye arrived sizzling, succulent and pleasingly square, it was perfect.
Be warned though, they don’t muck about when it comes to the cooking. Ask for it rare and that is most certainly what you get, even tending to be blue.
On the side we had a great big bowl of chips to share together with a smiling offer of more on demand from the unfailingly cheerful and helpful waiters.
And there was a hearty bowl of baked cauliflower cheese steaming there too.
And some green veg. And then squishy mouthed silence. Superb.
A stout red is a must to really get the best out of your meat and the list is nicely done here, with cheerily priced and flavour-packed offerings like a whacking great Peter Lehmann shiraz – just the job. We went for a Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon from the higher reaches of the list, which was smoky, fruity and stunning.
Then, through the groaning, came dessert. One was warm chocolate brownies with ice cream, the other lovely baked cheesecake. Both were memorable, albeit totally unnecessary for our beef ravaged waistlines.
Here, really, it’s all about the meat, which is as it should be. The Porterhouse shows us how the humble act of grilling steak can be elevated to an art form.
Porterhouse, 24 Jewry Street, Winchester. Tel: 01962 810532.