It’s said that the word “Porterhouse” was first used in the US in the mid-1800s to describe a resting place for weary travellers. The irony wasn’t lost on me when, after a long day’s work and a lengthy journey from Downtown Dubai, I finally arrived at the steak restaurant of the same name in the new Sofitel Hotel on Palm Jumeirah.
I was immediately struck by the attentiveness of the staff, who quickly draped a complimentary pashmina around my shoulders upon noticing I was cold. It got better still; a sommelier appeared at the table with a gargantuan glass of steaming apple drink, sweet with honey, star anise and cinnamon and infused with cardamom, cloves, lemon and spicy ginger.
Its restorative powers were astounding and my companion and I were soon tucking into our starters. My scallops were firm, perfectly caramelised and complemented by the butternut squash purée, although the roasted almonds proved one texture too many. My guest’s oblong crab cake was a triumph, neither too dry nor potato-laden.
Naturally, we both opted for steak. My French Charolais rib-eye was well-seasoned, while my guest’s Australian tenderloin had a perfectly pink centre. The sauces and sides were the stars of the show and though the portions were hardly made for sharing, the silky smooth truffle mash and gratin dauphinoise were to die for. From the excellent selection of sauces, which included Bordelaise, spicy chipotle Roquefort and classic Béarnaise, we plumped for green peppercorn and the nuttily sweet mushroom jus.
For dessert, we tried to keep things simple with berries drizzled with sticky cassonade, topped off with Chantilly cream, and yet I had to order the pecan nut brownie. It could’ ve been ever so slightly more moist, although the rich chocolate ganache sauce compensated.
But be under no illusion: this is a serious steakhouse, not for the meat-shy, faint-hearted or penny-pinching diner. The beef variety is prodigious, with an impressive selection of master Kobe from purebred wagyu on the menu. There’s US prime Chateaubriand, carved, as you would hope, at the table; and for those with hearty appetites, the Porterhouse Irish dry aged for two weighs in at a whopping 1.2kg.
What sets the restaurant apart from so many steakhouses in Dubai is its sophisticated yet unstuffy ambience. From the dark wood partitions, distressed brown leather chairs and strains of jazz, the venue has a masculine but warm feel and attentive staff who know the menu: we chose sides of pomme purée and al dente asparagus with Parmesan foam because our waitress Charice enthused about them being “her favourites”.
One last recommendation: make sure to wander through the corridor to the left of the entrance; what will greet you is a stunning vertical garden. Boasting hundreds of plants and shrubs, the living façade is the creation of the famous botanist Patrick Blanc. Having seen his original creation in Paris, I dare to say his Dubai installation is even more spectacular.
A meal for two without beverages costs Dh825, excluding 10% service charge and 10% authority fees. For reservations at Porterhouse Steaks & Grills, Sofitel Palm Jumeirah, call 04 4556677. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and all reviews are conducted incognito
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