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The Porter House
STEAKHOUSE
125 Kinderkamack Road
(201) 307-6300
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MONTVALE
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Most entrees more than $25
Full bar
Open 7 days a week
Al fresco dining
Brunch served
Credit cards accepted
Entertainment
Family Friendly
Handicapped accessible
Lunch served
Private room available
Reservations accepted
Smoking permitted
Take-out menu
Categories key
IRISH SWEEP-STEAKS
By Susan Leigh Sherrill

The Porter House bills itself as "an authentic Irish pub and restaurant," and indeed, there is much that is Irish about it. For starters, the restaurant's owner, Fintan Seeley, is a native of County Carlow. To lend an "old-sod" feel to the place, Seeley imported rustic oak ceiling beams, stone pillars and a host of other Irish artifacts to construct the cozy, dark bar, which has numerous nooks and crannies in which to enjoy a pint. But unlike pubs in Ireland, where smoking has been outlawed since 2004, The Porter House bar is one of a very few in Bergen that still allows customers to light up, due to a caveat in New Jersey's 2006 anti-smoking law. Simply stated, a certain percentage of a restaurant’s sales be from tobacco or smoking related products; most Porter House smokers enjoy fine cigars. The restaurant's dining room – with d�cor that is more manor house than pub – is separated from the bar by heavy doors and is completely smoke free.

But while the bar's authentic look and friendly, often raucous atmosphere may evoke a true pub mood, the dinner menu features just a smattering of Irish favorites. Meaty and rich shepherd's pie, with its pillow-top of mashed potatoes, is a highlight. The rest of the menu leans towards steakhouse classics, with some "American bistro" favorites in the mix. A range of appetizers were all nicely done, including an impressive beef carpaccio; crab and shrimp crisply fried in wonton wrappers with a zesty chipotle aioli; and fried artichoke hearts and saut�ed crab cakes, both of which featured the same sauce: a lemony herb mayonnaise. For a few extra dollars, entr�es can be preceded by a smaller portion of the restaurant's creative salads, like arugula with shaved fennel, slivers of sun-dried tomato, shards of Parmesan and kalamata olives, or mesclun greens with goat cheese, apple, spicy walnuts and raisin-bread croutons.

The Porter House steaks we sampled did not disappoint. A substantial New York strip and T-bone were flavorful and cooked exactly as requested – to a temperature the restaurant calls "Pittsburgh" style, with a charred exterior and a medium-rare center. Lamb steak was also a hit, lightly marinated with garlic and herbs, then grilled and sliced with just pan juices as sauce. Our seafood selection – sea scallops with a light pesto and breadcrumb topping – was a pleasant surprise, the scallops cooked until they were just done. Desserts, served in huge portions, are well-executed versions of American favorites. Chocolate lava cake, bananas Foster and two giant wedges of warm bread pudding with cranberries and coconut were all sweetly satisfying.

And, it was not at all unpleasant to end the evening in the pub – over bourbon and single malt scotch, accompanied by a good cigar.

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