My quest for exceptional burgers in New Jersey brought me to the Porter House in Montvale, NJ. I had reviewed their website for months before actually making the trek. I'm not sure why I didn't go sooner, but I guess it was the whole "Irish pub" vibe that I saw on the website. That's not to say I don't like Irish pubs. But I just didn't know if it or its burger would pull through. Both did.
The Porter House is serving a very very good burger in a very cool pubby atmosphere. Before I get to the burger I should get into that atmosphere a bit.
The story goes that the owner collected old "parts" from pubs in Ireland and had them shipped back to make his pub/steakhouse in Montvale. I'm no historian, but some of the stuff seems old and "real". The floor is rumored to be 100 years old, or something like that. There's old Irish-type stuff everywhere in the bar room (not so much in the dining rooms).
All-in-all the atmosphere in the front pub rooms is fun and casual. There is usually music in the background (not Irish), some TVs, and live music several times a week. If you're lucky your bartender will be Andrew, who is attentive and friendly. Other bartenders seem to have a tendency to spend more time talking to the regulars (not a bad thing) rather than refilling my beer or wine (a bad thing).
The Porter House has upwards of 25 beers on tap. Several wines are offered by the glass. The reds, whites, and a sparkler (all mysteriously interspersed in no particular order on the wine list) are surprisingly not offensive for the most part. The wine list proper has 75 or so bottles (vintages not listed), including Fuedi San Gregorio Falanghina, something you don't see very often, and an '82 Chateau Margaux for 1500 bucks, if you're in the mood. I asked about the storage of that particular wine, since I got the feeling the other bottles were just kinda laying around somewhere, and I was told that the staff is instructed to call the owner if someone orders that wine, and he'll get it from his personal cellar (presumably appropriately stored) and get it to the restaurant in minutes flat, by hook or crook. I'll take his word for it.
They've got a really nice outdoor patio with a bunch of seats, off the road and behind the restaurant. The dining room bright and a bit more formal than it should be. But not offensively so. There's an additional dining room upstairs, and I'm told they do private parties in one of those rooms. Sounds good to me.
The menu includes a bunch of Irish favorites and, to my surprise, dry-aged USDA Prime steak. Only the bone-in strip is dry-aged. Maddeningly the porterhouse for two is not. You really have to knock my socks off to impress me with your steak. I left with my socks on, you are assured. The wings, however, came close to taking my socks off. Nice blue cheese dressing with real chunks of blue cheese that suggested to me that we weren't dealing with a big industrial plastic container of the stuff. Although I could be wrong. But I hope not.
And the bad news, perhaps? They are also cigar bar and, as such, in accordance with NJ law, they are allowed to and do allow smoking. But only in the front rooms.
Oh yeah, that burger. It's really good. What can I tell you. Ask for the steak fries well-done.
The Porter House : 125 Kinderkamack Rd : Montvale, NJ : 201.307.6300
And they're opening another restaurant in Norwood veddy veddy soon.