Porterhouse Covent Garden, WC2E 7NA
- 21-22 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden (map of this place)
- WC2E 7NA
- Nearby Tube stops: Covent Garden Station, Charing Cross Station, Embankment Station
- What [Beer In The Evening]? has to say
A huge and cavernous pub extending upwards and downwards for several floors and decorated in a cod-Victorian-factory-brass-pipes-and-gubbins style. Has a good range of interesting beers. On a weekday evening it tends to be full of City types dancing drunkenly to bad cover versions of famous songs played by a pub band, giving the feeling of being in some vast, ghastly termite mound. --Earle
I've only been there once, on a Wednesday, but it was absolutely fine and practically empty until about 6pm; then it filled up pretty fast and got loud and unpleasant. I did like it until then, apart from the boring music. If you're off work some weekday afternoon and want somewhere spacious to skulk about and drink interesting beer, this might be the place to go. I say "skulk" because the lighting's kind of dim; it's one of those places where you really don't want to emerge from into sunlight after 5 hours' drinking. --Kake
Also pretty much empty early this lunchtime (noon till just before 1pm on a Thursday). --Kake
It's best early in the week or early in the afternoon. Great for a long session if (a) you have lots of money, (b) it's not a sports day. --Roger
As of January 2003, several of the pipes have been redone in matt black rather than brass or copper. This makes the place rather less visually appealing. --Roger
There are nine Porterhouse beers available on draught - three stout, three ale and three lager. The drinks menu says about these: "All our beers are brewed in Dublin, using no chemicals and are unpasteurised.". You can get a sample tray of all nine for �5.95. They also have guest beers -- they're doing Boon Kriek on draught at the moment (Feb 2002), and I was told that they might keep it on, since it's proved popular.
They also claim to offer an enormous selection of bottled beers from all around the world - the drinks menu has three closely-typed pages of beers from 39 countries including Brazil, Finland, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico and Tasmania; Belgium too, of course - 26 different Belgian beers including five Chimays and two Kriek (Liefmans and Oud Beersel). [mstevens]? says they have a fairly good record on having most of these beers most of the time.
There is a fair selection of wine too, but as the drinks menu says: "Excuse me, but why don't you have glasses of wine? Basically, we don't like to drink stale, oxidised wine ourselves, therefore we don't serve your wine from opened bottles.". They do however offer quarter-bottles of wine (five red, five white) at �3.10, and as far as I'm concerned, that's a glassful.
This place is not cheap. A 500ml bottle of Old Speckled Hen is priced at �3.50 (I remember buying that stuff for a pound a pint in Wales). Strongbow is �2.90 a pint. A 375ml bottle of Kriek is �3.60; 330ml of Chimay Blue is �3.45. Best bet is to stick with the house beers, but even these start at �2.20 (for the very drinkable Plain) and go up from there. Although, confusingly, the draught Kriek is only �3 a pint (I'm not entirely sure that this wasn't just a mistake on the part of the barstaff, but if it wasn't then hurrah).
Full menu served 5pm-9pm Monday to Friday, noon-9pm Saturday, noon-5pm Sunday. Prices range from �2.50 for garlic bread or soup, through �3.75 for potato wedges or bruschetta, �6-8 for main courses such as Beef in Stout, Haddock and Chips, Portobello Mushroom Burger and Pasta with Spinach and Cream Cheese, right up to �13.50 for a dozen oysters.
Giolla says that the Portobello Mushroom Burger is "really, really nice". It's grilled with garlic butter and served in ciabatta with emmental cheese.
The other vegetarian main course on the menu is Thai Noodle Salad, which can be made vegan if you call up in advance - the only substitution needed is rice noodles for the egg noodles. Kake says: "I phoned them about lunchtime on the day I was planning to go there and they tried to get some rice noodles from the Tesco round the corner, but Tesco had run out; however when I actually turned up in the evening and asked for the vegan food I'd been promised, they headed out again and got a packet of instant noodles. This was very helpful of them; probably helped by the fact that it was early in the evening and not very busy. I will try to give them more notice next time."
There is also a lunch menu served noon-5pm; three vegetarian choices, I think, including hummous and peppers, which is quite possibly vegan and costs something in the region of �4.75.