Cozy traditional English food - pies are the specialty

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by ch2001 on April 25, 2012

I'm in love with savory pies, and I know the UK is too. Research ahead of time led us to make a reservation at Porters. Located in the center of all the big sites, it's halfway between Charing Cross and Covent Garden tube stations. We had the front desk staff of our hotel (Trafalgar Hilton) make a reservation, but when we arrived try had no record of it. Fortunately, they found us a table after a short ten minute wait.

The interior had a warm feel to it. A large dark wood bar was immediately inside the front door. Matching dark wood accents were around the restaurant. From the waist down the walls were a yellowish-tan, while faded green and salmon striped wallpaper covered the upper half of the walls.

There was a wonderfully diverse drink menu of beer, wine and cocktails. In addition to the bottled European beer there were seven varieties of St Peter’s Brewery Traditional English Bottled Beer, a local specialty. We ordered two of the Best Bitter. The 500ml bottle was in the shape of a flask and cost
£4.45. The menu described it as "brewed with pale & crystal malts and Goldings hops, resulting in a
full-bodied ale with fruity caramel notes." I don't have a highly developed beer pallet, so I couldn't taste any of that, but I did enjoy it!

The menu was extensive. Offerings included traditional British pub foods such as Beer Battered Cod and Steak and Kidney Pudding (between £11.95 to £14.95). And, a large pie list, including: Steak, Guinness and Mushroom Pie, Fisherman’s Pie, Steak, Onion, Pea and Red Wine Pie, Shepherd’s Pie, Lamb and Apricot Pie, Chicken, Mushroom and Leek Pie, Three Bean, Spicy Lentil and Vegetable Pie (from £11.95 to £12.25). The pies come in two styles, a puffed pastry pie and a shortcrust hot raised pie - the more classic type. Each pie is served with a choice of Mashed Potato, Covent Garden Vegetables, Green Salad, Chips, New Potatoes or Baked Potato.

To start we ordered a side of mushy peas - a British delicacy (£1.95). They were immensely flavorful, and I could have eaten many bowls.

I ordered the Gamekeepers Pie, described as "game in a rich port and redcurrant sauce shortcrust hot raised pie with a jug of gravy." the crust was thick and flakey, the meat tender. The sauce was very rich, not overly sweet. And the gravy complimented the sauce and meat extremely well. I opted for the baked potato, which, of course, had a large dollop of chive filled sour cream. It was one of the best baked potatoes I've ever met.

My partner ordered the Steak and Cheddar Pie, deceived as "steak with mature cheddar cheese topped with puff pastry." The filling of the pie was in a small bowl and the buttery puff pastry was laid over the top. The tender steak was mixed with salty cheddar cheese - the melted cheese acted like a sauce, making the overall dish moist, when it has the potential to be heavy and dry.

The waitstaff was very attentive and knowledgable. They helped us pick the beer and the pies.

Porters is a great spot for an authentic British culinary experience - good food, popular with the locals and centrally located.
Porters English Restaurant
17 Henrietta Street
London, England, WC2E 8QH
(020) 7836-6466

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