Review: Porter & Rye

Steak has been taken to another level in Glasgow thanks to the introduction of Finnieston’s newest restaurant, Porter & Rye. It’s owned by the same people who own Finnieston favourites Lebowski’s & The Finnieston, with the aim of bringing together good quality aged beef & molecular cooking (how very Heston!).

Ever since Porter & Rye opened in December, I had been pining to visit & the perfect opportunity came up to go for dinner on Valentine’s day. The interior of the restaurant has a homely yet modern feel to it with stripped back brick walls & a sleek metallic style bar with open kitchen at the back of the restaurant. The seating is spread out with a few booths & bar types seats on the ground floor & a split mezzanine with booths to the back & table to the front. We were fortunate to be seated in the upper booth area which was cosy with dimmed lighting. It was also seated directly above the kitchen so I could sneak peeks at goings on downstairs.

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When I say steak has been taken to another level, this is evident when you’re seated. Our waitress had a blackboard with each type of steak, which cut of meat & the price. On the night, there was 30 day aged Galloway & 28 day aged Aberdeen Angus to choose from. I found out after our meal from John, the head chef of the group, that from pictures provided by their butcher, individual cows are picked by the restaurant for their meat to ensure they are getting the best quality!

We opted to order some drinks whilst deciding & I’ll admit that I hardly recognised any of the ingredients on the cocktail menu. That didn’t stop me & I ordered a tequila based cocktail that came with blue cheese stuffed olives that arrived with the biggest block of ice I’d ever seen! Normally that would put me off but on the first sip, it was evident that the focus here was on the alcohol & not masking the taste with fruity or sugary flavours! Not that I’m complaining!

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Our starters were chosen from the small plates section & we opted for beef carpaccio & smoked mackerel pate. I know, a beef starter when we’re about to have a steak but I couldn’t resist. This was the first evidence of the molecular cooking as the carpaccio arrived with a domed cover filled with smoke that evaporated once uncovered. Despite this, I could still taste the smokiness with each bite of the carpaccio. The smoked mackerel pate had a similar smokiness to it, hinting that it was smoked in-house to give it a subtle taste. The pate also came with 8 oatcakes which couldn’t be finished as we had to keep space for the main! We also received some of the oysters that were on special that weekend with compliments of the chef. These were covered with an apple foams with tiny bits of diced apples, seated in a crate on a bed of seaweed which our waitress made smoke with some liquid poured over it. These were divine – very fresh & tangy from the apple & a nice change from the usual oysters au natural.

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The main event was to die for! We opted for a chateaubriand medium rare which came with 2 sides & 2 sauces. It was difficult to choose only 2 sides but we narrowed it down to broccoli & marrow bone mac & cheese which I had heard good things about. Before your steak arrives, you are presented with a selection of steak knives & allowed to choose which one you prefer! The steak was beautiful – perfectly cooked, melt in the mouth & full of flavour. I honestly could have eaten the whole thing to myself it was that good! I’m normally a fast eater but I took my time with this as I wanted to savour every mouthful.

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Our sides were also fantastic. Although we had tenderstem broccoli as they had run out of purple sprouting, it was crunchy yet slightly buttery & salty – a far cry from my usual plain old boiled broccoli I make at home! And the mac & cheese, what can I say? I’d never been sure about trying bone marrow but the small cubes that were mixed with the mac & cheese were meaty & complimented the pasta perfectly. The mac & cheese was not overly cheesy which actually went quite well as it wasn’t too heavy & didn’t detract from the steak. Our sauces were porter & bacon & smoked garlic & pink peppercorn & although they were nice, I didn’t feel they were needed as the steak & sides provided enough flavour for the main course.

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With my main I had a particularly fabulous cocktail which had a spirit I had never heard or, nor can recall but had green apple sorbet in it with a large slice of a granny smith. I’d never had sorbet in a cocktail but it was really refreshing & helped soak up the (strong) alcohol that was in the cocktail.

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I have to take my hats off to Porter & Rye for providing a dessert I could not resist, which is rare for me. I opted to have the peanut butter ice cream with banana & toffee sauce to end my meal. The ice cream was creamy & a not so strong but just about right peanut butter flavour. The banana was in the form of chips & caramelised banana chunks which was perfect with the toffee sauce.

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Porter & Rye was the best dining experience I’ve had since we dined in a Aux Armes de Bruxelles on our mini-moon. Yes it was expensive (we were £98 in total) but the reflection of the amount of time, effort & money they have spent developing the concept & dishes is evident from the moment you are seated. With new starters due to be launched in the coming weeks, I’m excited to see what else they can offer on top of what I regard to be an already amazing restaurant. This will definitely be one of our go-to restaurants for special occasions!

Not such a good grilling

On Friday it was one of my close friend’s 30th & I took it upon myself to sort out a surprise dinner for him. As he’s a bit of a meat lover, I decided on Grill on the Corner – a no brainer, they do the best steaks in town! I did not expect to have such a hassle to not only book the meal but also be seated at our table on the night. Booking a table for 11 was such a travesty – it took me 5 days, 5 phonecalls (despite being promised to be called back) & deposit of £10 each before it was finally confirmed. 

We arrived at 8pm sharp to be greeted by the fire alarm which was going off. We had to stand at the bar area & watch whilst 3 fire engines turned up to figure out how to turn off a faulty fire alarm. 30 mins later (I kid you not!), the whining finally stopped & I was straight over asking to be seated at our table only to be told it would take another couple of minutes as they were pushing the tables together. It wasn’t until 8:45 that we were finally seated at our table!! Not only did it take ages but I had dropped off a balloon before we arrived & they had failed to put it on the table before seating us. Not exactly rocket science to put a balloon on a table!! I’ve been to the Grill a couple of times before so knew that a steak is the only way to go. We finally had our order taken after 9pm – 1 whole hour after we had originally booked the table for!

For starters, I ordered the sharing platter (salt & pepper chicken skewers, thai fishcakes, duck springrolls & calarmari) with my fiance to share. It arrived & it looked pretty appetising. One thing I loved was that the calamari came with tentacles! Never ever had that before. Overall the platter was very tasty – good calamari, the chicken skewers had a nice kick to them & the fishcakes had a nice thai flavour to them. The duck springrolls weren’t exactly to my taste & the garlic mayo wasn’t lacking in garlic flavour – my only complaints about the starter.

Now it was time for the main event! I had been looking forward to this steak since I had booked the meal. I ordered a medium sirloin with champ potatoes & a side of green beans & shallots. I’ve had the sirloin once before & it was melt in the mouth deliciousness! The steak arrived & first bite was a big disappointment – it hadn’t been seasoned!! Of all the things I would never expect from a restaurant that specialises in steak is for them to forget to put some salt & pepper on it. The cut itself was not as good as I had before but not as bad as other cuts that have been passed off as steak in other places. The champ potatoes had also been drowned in butter which took away from any taste the spring onion would have given them. One other member of the party was extremely disappointed with his rump steak which was so fatty despite being described as the leanest cut on the menu! 

For the prices you pay in a restaurant like the Grill on the Corner, you expect first class service, no need to ask to make an order, an amazing steak & a card machine that works!!! However, we didn’t get this at all & my feeling is they can’t handle large parties on a Friday/Saturday night. My friend enjoyed his steak which was the main thing as it was his birthday & the reason we had gone there but I couldn’t help but mention my views to the manager. All I was told was that they were sorry & next time I come to ask for the manager & he’ll make sure that we get the best table & best service – not sure if we will be back to take them up on that offer!!