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Mr Porter in Amsterdam

Rating: 80.
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Outstanding (93-95)
Very good to Excellent (89-92)
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You can get good steaks in Amsterdam these days, but the Dutch capital had never had a proper American style steakhouse. So, I was very pleased to hear that the W Hotel in Amsterdam would be opening a steakhouse called Mr Porter, on the top floor of the hotel. And the use of the words "steakhouse" and "chophouse" on their website was very promising, although the self-chosen qualification "Trendy chophouse for the femine set" had me mildly worried at the same time.

This review starts in October 2015, the week of the opening of Mr Porter. The restaurant (and cocktail bar) are situated on the 6th floor of the W Hotel, a floor which also houses the hotel's outdoor swimming pool and the W Lounge, with panoramic views of Amsterdam, including the Royal Palace and Dam Square. The first thing you run into when you arrive on the 6th floor, are glass aging cabinets in which the steaks are on display. A nice first impression. After we (my husband and I) were seated at our table, the menu was explained to us, which (remarkably) turned out to be based on the ever so popular "sharing" concept.

We started with some deliciously tender grilled squid, lightly coated with a créme fraîche sauce that had been flavoured with smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic. This was followed by a fresh-tasting yellowtail ceviche, mildly seasoned with Aji pepper and served with lotus crisps. Next up was "roast beef carpaccio", which consisted of 5 thin slices of roast beef, seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt. Finally there was soft roasted aubergine, served with a tomato sauce and a grated hard-boiled egg. An excellent start of the meal.


On to the steaks, which were also intended for sharing (served in the middle of the table), but I don't see the point of sharing a 350gr steak. Anyway, I had the Scottish ribeye (grass fed) and my husband had the Scottish bone-in fillet (grass fed). Both steaks were well-cooked and very flavoursome. All steaks at Mr Porter come with two sauces, pepper and horseradish, but I would have liked to have seen a choice of sauces on the menu, such as Béarnaise sauce, red wine sauce and gravy, but that's a personal preference. The sides (called "accessories" on the menu) today were chips and cauliflower macaroni and cheese. I wasn't to keen on the chips (shoestring style), but I did like the mac and cheese, which was rich and wonderfully gooey.

We shared one dessert: a nice caramelised cheesecake with raspberry sorbet, raspberry crumbs and a lemon thyme tuile.

Overall I had a very enjoyable but also quite expensive meal - by Amsterdam standards at least. The bill for two came to €271.05, a modest bottle of wine (€45.50), two cocktails (€27.00) and coffees included. Service was friendly and efficient and I left the restaurant thinking that this was a great addition to the Amsterdam dining scene. My second visit (5 December 2015), on the other hand, was a completely different experience. Service was still smooth but food-wise, things were a car crash.

This time we had lunch and we shared three starters. First to arrive from the Carpaccio section on the menu was "Scallop lemon aioli", which turned out to be barely two-thirds of a scallop, cut into 7 thin slices. I don't think the restaurant should put a skimpy dish like this (for sharing!) on the menu and certainly not at €17. I do realise that scallop is an expensive ingredient and I have happily paid around €20 to €25 for scallop ceviche in London restaurants, but that was for decent sized dishes. 

Even more disappointing was a €18 salad, described on the menu as "Jumbo Prawns with grilled corn, avocado, and dried chilli sauce". All the ingredients were there, but the "prawns" element was represented by just one miserable, overcooked, rubbery prawn. If I was serving just one prawn in such a (sharing...) dish, I would make damn sure it was well-cooked. What's even worse in a way: the prawn had been cut into pieces. Surely someone must have noticed its condition when cutting it up?

A utterly bland, roasted baby cauliflower, burnt on the outside and cold on the inside, was sent back to the kitchen and taken off the bill later on.

My ribeye steak was fine, if not evenly cooked. The cauliflower macaroni and cheese was on the dry side this time and lacking gooeyness. I also ordered the crunchy onion loaf, which basically is a big pile of fried onion rings. It was nice enough but I would rather just have fried onion rings with my steak and I really didn't get the sprinkling of lime zest and the eruption of green basil and lime sauce.  I couldn't be bothered to stay for dessert this time.

My initial good experience (I'd rate that meal at 87 or even 88), didn't turn out to be a reliable indicator of the quality at Mr Porter. My second meal was a long way off being anywhere near that score. At these prices they should have served me a better meal. Apart from the depressing food, I was also bothered by the lack of information on the menu about the provenance and aging of the steaks. As an example, the "signature steaks" priced at a whopping €85 and €110 respectively are just described as "Mrs Porter" and "Mr Porter" on the menu. 

Amsterdam used to be free of pretentious restaurants that state silly things on their website like: "we fearlessly explore the borders between dinner (sic!, EoF) and sinner", but with the opening of Mr Porter, the W Hotel has put an end to that. If you look at Mr Porter's Instagram feed, you see lots of happy selfies and group photographs and (surprisingly) hardly any photographs of the food. Even London's brand new celebrity hotspot Sexy Fish's Instagram feed has more photographs of food. Everyone seems to be having a good time at Mr Porter, but you also get the impression that generally speaking the people that go to Mr Porter are there for an evening of fabulousity, in which food is merely considered an accessory. The chefs at Mr Porter must be sensing this and appear to act accordingly.

Mr. Porter at the W Hotel
Spuistraat 175

Posted 07-01-2016


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