Overview: Porter Café, which opened in June 2011, is the newest addition to Centre Street’s restaurant scene in West Roxbury. Located on the same block as The Upper Crust and across the street from West on Centre, Porter rounds out the area with a modern Irish pub option. Co-owners and Ireland natives, Paul Murphy and Dermot Loftus, have worked at various establishments around Brookline and Dublin, taking their expertise and experience to West Roxbury.
Atmosphere: Long and narrow, the pub utilizes its small dining space with a few tables and a lengthy bar. Red walls, warm lighting, high ceilings and virtually no artwork give the place a cozy, down-to-earth vibe. Wide mirrors reflect the light and walls, making the interior feel more spacious. The background music is low and folksy, but the chatter can reach almost intrusive decibels when the restaurant is packed with patrons. The size, ambience and exterior facade somewhat resemble Matt Murphy’s in Brookline, which may be explained by the owners’ previous experience there.
Drinks: Long on beer and wine options, Porter is really a bar with sit-down food service. By the glass ($7-$9) or bottle ($28-$45), wine options include sparkling, white, rosé, and red. The pub is best known for its beer (about 75 to choose from), which is categorized as draft ($5-$6), can ($4-$6), large format ($7-$19), fruit ($5-$8), or bottle ($3.50-$8). From local lagers and California pale ales to Irish cider and fruity Canadian brews, Porter runs the gamut. And, yes, there is Guinness.
Appetizers: The food menu takes up less space than the beer list. Porter keeps its options simple yet somewhat diverse in nature. Starters include mussels steamed in coconut curry sauce (served with crusty bread, $11), simple mixed greens (with goat cheese and lemon caraway dressing, $7), and grilled fish tacos (two of them, served with salsa and cilantro lime cream, $8).
Entrées: The meaty establishment offers one vegetarian-friendly main dish: roasted butternut squash risotto ($16), which is warm and filling. The others are all more carnivorous in nature: braised pork shank (fall vegetables, crushed Yukon potatoes, red wine reduction, $$19), roasted cod (buttered leeks, cauliflour, $18), and steak frites (maitre d’butter, cress salad, $18).
Desserts: What Porter lacks in liquor and sweets it makes up for in craft beers and hearty bar food. The filling dishes wouldn’t leave much room for dessert, anyway.
Service: Just like the restaurant itself, Porter Café’s service is straight-forward and no-nonsense. The waitress was accommodating when asked something, but granted enough privacy to enjoy a meal in as much peace and quiet as can be expected in a small, crowded pub. Competent yet not overbearing, the overall service was fine and reflective of Porter Café’s laid back nature.
Contact: 1723 Centre St., West Roxbury
Hours: Open nightly for dinner:
Tuesday-Saturday, 4-11 p.m.
Sunday-Monday, 4-10 p.m.
Bar is open until 1 a.m.
Owners: Paul Murphy and Dermot Loftus
Chef: Jimmy Whelen