Porter House is a Brit-style public house newly opened on Dundas West where the Brockton General used to be. Like any pub, it's casual and cozy place, but there are a few novelties. The beer menu features six rotating craft brews on tap, and the menu of hearty comfort foods is exclusively vegan.
"We wanted a place we'd want to hang out" Corder tells me, which is exactly the right kind of attitude for pub proprietors. While the duo describe the sparsely adorned space as "turnkey" with minimal renovations save for a new floor and reupholstering and re-fixturing, I personally think the place has never looked better - it's not fancy but it radiates warmth.
The menu opens with snacky foods like curry fries ($9), beer battered dumplings ($9), and a dish dubbed bread and preserves ($14), which is a board comprising a dollop of miso cured tofu, a little pot of king mushroom and chestnut confit, and a serving of and hazelnut pate. Pickles, mustard and apple chutney complete the dish offering zippy counterpoints to the dense cheese-like texture of tofu, and savoury Nutella-like pate.
What I like best about this meatless menu is that there's no faux proteins, nothing masquerading as something else that inevitably doesn't live up to expectations.
The yuba sandwich ($14) for instance could have been named to mimic some sort of pulled meat, but it's not - it proudly advertises itself au natural. Yuba, skins of bean curd, are roasted, marinated, then shredded making it both flavourful and voluminous. Dressed with roasted root vegetables, cranberry sauce and horseradish mayo, the sandwich is served with sides of shoestring fries and beer gravy that amount to one satisfying meal.
Lentil and ale pie ($14) might just be the best vegan dish I've ever eaten - I might even prefer it to the more traditional steak and ale pies that inspired it. Puy lentils have a great toothsome texture that sing in a rich dark beer sauce under a puff puff pastry crust. Slaw and lemony-dressed greens on the side are thoughtful, refreshing accompaniments.
Aside from the ever changing selection of draught beers, expect to find a growing list of bottles and cans, plus a few choice wine options by the glass ($11-$12) or the bottle ($46-$50).
Porter House anticipates diners will cling to favourites and aspires to offer that sense of familiarity and reliability. The menu isn't set to change too frequently though various components will switch up seasonally.
Photos by Jesse Milns