Omnivore - Dinner at Porter Beer Bar

L5P bar packs them in


We had dinner at the Porter Beer Bar in Little Five Points Monday night. It was packed with 20-somethings obviously in need of lots of beer after spending Christmas with their families.

I love this place, mainly for chef/owner Nick Rutherford's cooking. He offers daily-changing specials that are unique in town. I'm not sure what the problem was Monday night, but our food wasn't really up to par.

The main disappointment was a special of sliced pork loin with sweet-potato puree and a sauce of kumquat sauce. Forget that the quantity was skimpy, sitting alone on a plate that begged for a side dish. The flavors — especially the kumquat sauce — were good enough, but everything on the plate was at room temperature at best.

Wayne's dish — a special of chitarra pasta and meatballs — was better. The pasta was tossed with a "smoked marinara" sauce with slices of parmesan cheese. Peanuts and golden raisins also flavored the meatballs.

We started our meal with the "warm pig terrine." I was expecting a pate-style terrine. Instead, it was a soup terrine featuring bacon, lentils, a poached egg and creme fraiche. It was a hearty wintertime soup I'd happily order as an entree.

I ordered dessert — an apple beignet with vanilla ice cream and Georgia pecan sauce. I have to say that I immediately compared this to a similar dish I sampled at the Glenwood recently. The Glenwood's was much better, with more apples and better pastry. After I finished the dessert I remarked to our server that I never encountered the pecan sauce. "It's in the bottom of the bowl," she said. I looked and indeed found it under the melted ice cream.

Nicely, the restaurant did comp the dessert, I assume because my entree was served unheated.

Don't let my remarks keep you away. The bar's cuisine has never disappointed me in the past. I'm guessing the huge post-Christmas crowd put the kitchen under stress.