West Roxbury is talking about the newly-opened Porter Café.
The Centre Street restaurant's arrival was greatly anticipated. The business is so new that no phone number is listed on the temporary signage out front or online, but check out the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Co-owner Dermot Loftus, a handsome Irishman, originally from Bray and Wicklow counties, was welcoming, but a little shy. He did not want his photo taken without his business partner, Paul Murphy, originally from Dublin, present.
Loftus explained they are taking things slow, not trying to attract too much attention while they put the finishing touches on the café located at 1723 Centre St. He and Murphy are still working on artwork, signage and a few other things during these first few weeks of business, calling it a soft opening.
That said, they are excited about the interest they’ve already seen from passers-by, eager to take a look at the menu and try the food and beer.
“We’re trying to create a pub atmosphere with creative food. We have a great chef at the helm,” Loftus said, referring to Jimmy Whelen, who previously worked with Andy Husbands at Tremont 647 and Jamie Bissonnette, now of Coppa.
Indeed, the food coming out of the open kitchen looks very nice.
Menu items include seared sea scallops on pea and bacon risotto ($18), grilled porterhouse pork chop, crushed Yukon potatoes, asparagus and stone fruit mustard ($17), fried shrimp “Po’ boy” with spiced slaw, house mayo and fries ($11), roasted cod ($17), burgers ($10), fava and asparagus risotto ($14), roasted chicken ($16) and steak frites ($17) round out the entrée menu.
A lovely list of starters and sides/bar snacks is also available.
Starters include raw oysters by the half dozen (market price), simple mixed green salad ($5), cider-steamed mussels ($11), salt cod brandade ($8), potato and cheese pierogies ($7), and grilled chicken and apple salad ($8).
Bar snacks and sides include mac and cheese ($7, bacon or veg $9), meat and cheese plate ($9), fried pickles ($5), French fries with smoked paprika aioli ($4), roasted asparagus ($4) and crushed potatoes ($4).
Peggy Doyle of West Roxbury has already dined at Porter Café twice, once opening week and then again this weekend. Doyle said she enjoyed the fish tacos ($8 for two) at her first visit so much, she said she had to come back to try something else. Her pick? The fava and asparagus risotto with roasted pepper and herb pistou ($14).
“We chose West Roxbury because we love the community,” Loftus said. “We’ve had great support from local business people, , and the neighbors.
“Honestly, the people coming in are terrific. They’re very friendly, so we feel really good about the location and are looking forward to meeting more of the community,” Loftus added.
The beer list is extensive, featuring more than 60 choices, including 14 on tap, and highlighting craft beer. A more limited list of wines by the glass or bottle is also available.
Starting in July, the beer, wine and food menus will each feature specials, changing monthly.
Bartender Nate Walker lights up the place with his friendly manner and big smile. Pull up a chair at the bar and know you’ll have someone fun to talk with when Walker is on duty.
Loftus says he and Murphy each have 20 years of bartending experience. They always hoped to open their own neighborhood place someday, envisioning a pub-like atmosphere with restaurant food, a place where families can come in for a meal, folks can drop by in jeans or couples can come on a date, a place where people strolling by can pop in for a pint — like back home in Ireland.