THE DISH

Signature Bone-In Filet, $45

After a recent renovation, Porter's Steakhouse in Collinsville has revamped its look with a sleek and sophisticated atmosphere that maintains the comfortable feel of the 25-year-old steakhouse. A combination of tables and large booths create an environment perfect for entertaining clients as well as special-occasion dining.

Chef Jonathan Hoffman has crafted a menu that is both classic and inventive. In traditional style, a meat display cart is presented to guests to showcase the assortment of cuts and options - rib eye, New York strip, veal chops, pepperloin, lobster tail, tuna, crab, salmon, the list goes on.

I ordered the steak cut that is quite rare but becoming increasingly popular: the bone-in filet. Traditionally, a filet mignon has no bone. (The bone adjacent to it is used for the strip steak.) In this case, the bone is left with the filet side to provide even more flavor when cooked. Topped with crispy potatoes, it is served with a choice of baked potato or broccoli.

After selecting my starter, entrée and sides, I thought I was settling in to wait for my meal. Not so. Next up is sommelier Jeff Callahan and his wine cart. Each night he offers guests tastes of four wines. The wines change, but he always has a sweet white, a dry white, a dry red and possibly a sweet red dessert wine. The experience is both an exciting way to wait for a meal and an educational one in selecting a wine to enjoy. Here are the wines I paired with my meal:

THE WINES

2006 Markham Merlot, Napa, $16 by the glass

In my opinion "Merlot and mignon" could be the next "pigs and Pinot." Both the food and the wine are strong and flavorful without being pushy. Rich and velvety, fruit forward with soft tannins, this classic Napa Merlot is starting to come into its own. Cherry and mocha notes meld well with the peppered butter that succulently drips from the meat. Treat yourself to a classic steak and red wine dinner, with a twist, of course.

2007 Francis Coppola "Diamond Collection" Claret, California, $12.25 by the glass

Claret is the British term to describe a blended red wine. You might also know it as meritage. This Cabernet-heavy wine includes all five of the Bordeaux grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. A Coppola signature wine, it is soft and sophisticated with aromas of blackberry. Its structure is an impressive balance to the lean cut. The extra set of flavors from being cooked with the bone are heightened with this pairing.

2005 J. Lohr "Carol's Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $18.50 by the glass

Named for Lohr's late wife who died from breast cancer, Carol's Vineyard is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. This vintage is a 77/23 mix, respectively.

Although you might be comfortable with the Cab and steak pairing, take note of the difference here. Filet mignon has little fat, and Cabernet has a lot of tannins; both components are distinctive this time. The wine is tempered by the Petit Verdot, and the meat is given an extra oomph with the bone-in style. An added benefit to ordering this wine is that a portion of the proceeds is donated to helping women receive regular mammograms. A great wine, an extraordinary cause and an enriching meal all around.

Porter's Steakhouse, 1000 Eastport Plaza Drive, Collinsville, 618.345.2400, porterscollinsville.com


STLwinegirl Angela Ortmann gained a passion for all things epicurean by working in the luxury restaurants and hotels of St. Louis and San Francisco. Through her event and consultation business, she is dedicated to enhancing your food and wine experience.