Chef Michael Lomonaco of Porter House New York takes a few moments to talk steaks, sides, Shakespeare, his menu for a planned food truck, and Socks the cat.
You trained with some great chefs, Alain Sailhac and Daniel Boulud to name just two. Who were the three most influential chefs in your career and what was the one most important thing you learned from each?
From Alain Sailhac I learned how to plan, focus and control a kitchen. I learned rich flavors and seasonality from Daniel Boulud. And Larry Forgione taught me about using local ingredients and cooking them with the inspiration of American regionality.
Porter House New York opened fall of 2006. You’ve settled in. What aspect of it are you most proud of? Any things you’d like to improve?
I am most pleased with the team of restaurant professionals I have fortunate to assemble here; their daily attention to detail and astute service of our guests, from both the dining room staff as well as the kitchen has proved to be of the highest standards. I and my team try every day to build on past success, not grow stagnant or too comfortable, but rather continue to see new opportunities to make Porter House New York a world-class dining experience.
What’s your favorite steakhouse side dish?
For this I would have to say the seasonal specials: Hudson Valley creamed corn, or pan-roasted Brussels sprouts with apple-wood smoked bacon.
Any failsafe tips for cooking steak? Things to always and never do?
Always buy the best grade meat you can find — with an unlimited budget choose Prime Aged — always buy fresh not frozen meat, salt just prior to cooking, use a screaming hot cast iron pan if your searing the beef, or hot grill for that char so many people like — although don’t char the meat to a blackened finish, but rather let the salt develop the char into a crispy finish and then move the meat to a cooler part of the grill for final cooking.
Besides quality meat, what’s the secret behind a great steak tartare?
Use a first quality cut of meat, like tenderloin, and chop it yourself by hand with a sharp knife just prior to seasoning and serving. Serve and consume quickly.