The Porterhouse is a huge multi-leveled labyrinth of a pub, linked together with exposed copper piping. Despite its size it is frequently packed to the rafters, and so must be doing something right. The beer for starters. The place has its own micro-brewery producing three stouts, three ales and three lagers. Plus they have a huge beer menu, including beers from as far afield as Palestine and Tahiti. In the line of duty we sampled, among others, a banana bread beer from Jamaica (very banana-y, quite nice, but not sure I could manage more than a glass), a Crocodile beer from Sweden (winner of best beer award....17 years ago!) and a "sexy" beer featuring a bikini-clad lady on the bottle (scratch and the bikini disappears, so the taste of the larger is rather beside the point!). The food menu features the kind of thing you need to soak up the beer - pizzas, pies, burgers, snacky platters - with most mains around the £7-9 mark. My favourite by far was the "frying pan". It literally came served in a cute iron frying pan (atop a plate), crammed full of potatoes, eggs, onions, chorizo and other stuff and it was very yummy. The steak sandwich on the other hand was a bit of a disappointment -- the granary bread and the mayo overpowered the miserly portion of well-done steak and I couldn't trace the parmesan advertised on the menu. The accompanying chips were thick cut and nice enough, though they lose points for serving the mayo in those little Heinz sachets. The burgers were also OK, but with no great "wow" factor. So overall I'd say this is a place to come for the beer and the atmosphere (and the music - they have Irish folk sessions on Sunday afternoons), but the food is good enough to mean you don't have to leave if you get a bit peckish.
The Porterhouse, 21-22 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2 E7NA; Tel. 0207 379 7917; Tube: Covent Garden or Charing Cross; www.porterhousebrewco.com