Like most steakhouses (and even many non-steakhouses today), Porter House has adopted the model of menu compartmentalization, which means if you want a little something to go with your beef chop or even your swordfish, you have to buy it. There are nine forgettable $9 side dishes available (macaroni and cheese, creamed spinach and such) and six kinds of potato (the gratin and the hash browns are almost worth the $8).
Not that any of this appears to trouble the assortment of tourists, steak hounds, and business folk flocking to the joint. In fact, Porter House already seems more at home in the Time Warner mall environment than its snooty neighbors, Per Se and Masa. And why not? After browsing at the Aveda store, who wants a twenty-course truffle-heavy tasting menu or $400 worth of sushi? In time, these fads will pass. But in the end, there will always be steak. And if you have room, you can top yours off at Porter House with a spoonful or two of the properly chocolatey mud-pie sundae or a gourmet version of Apple Brown Betty garnished with cherry compote. But for the full boffo steakhouse finish, order the coconut layer cake. It’s an impressive structure decorated with waves of fluffy white frosting and big flakes of coconut stuck here and there like feathers in your grandmother’s favorite hat.