Mayfair has its fair share of Michelin-starred restaurants. Notting Hill has its comfy gastro-pubs; but Covent Garden has one of my favorite eateries: Porters English Restaurant. While others claim to serve authentic English cooking, Porters is one of the few to back up the claim with true flavors and a menu steeped in traditional dishes.
Some have mistakenly called this a gastro-pub, singularly because such pubs around Britain have copied the recipes and style of this trend-setting full-service restaurant.
The quality of food here is astounding, considering that the prices are so fair and reasonable. In fact, for the amount of great food you’ll be served, Porters must be the most affordable restaurant in London. Yes, I’ve had more glamorous meals and certainly dined in more elegant settings. But this isn’t where you go for glamor or high-fashioned interior design. It’s a place for eating and in that regard its focus is on comfort. You’ll find no haute cuisine here.
Porters serves some of the finest meat and fish pies made in the British Isles. If you’ve never tried an English pie, you’ve not lived. Some food historians believe the French emulated the British when creating pâté en croute, which is all too familiar a copy of great English pies. The public often forgets that British cooks rivaled and often surpassed the French for creative, quality cooking and that it was the British who wrote the first cookbooks.
What should you order? Absolutely anything! With recipes by The Earl and Countess of Bradford, and our own Carol Wilson, it’s impossible to go wrong. A superlative selection of desserts, including a fine Eton Mess, a great Spotted Dick (which isn’t quite what you’re thinking) and wonderful steamed puddings end a meal that starts with homemade soups, such as The London Particular, a pea and bacon soup that’s as thick as a London fog. Starters include a delightful Individual Smoked Salmon Terrine and some of the best Chicken Liver Pâté with Brandy and Garlic I’ve had in England or Wales.
Having dined on so many an occasion, I can say each of the main courses is wonderful, but the Steak and Kidney Pudding and for Autumn, a great Steak, Guinness and Mushroom Pie. With sufficient variety, you’ll find something for all tastes and budgets in one of London’s most convenient locations. Drop in, have a meal and say a fine “How’d ya do?” to the Earl and mention you read this post.
Porters English Restaurant,
17 Henrietta Street,
Covent Garden, London,
Tel: 020 7836 6466
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Porters has, since this article was written, sadly closed.