I’ve been dying to try Portland Restaurant since it opened months ago. Not just because critics and friends were raving about it, but also because the concept seemed very fun. Small menu, affordable and in a modern, casual setting. Sadly, actually going was a comedy of errors. I don’t even remember how many times I had to cancel, as every single time I booked a table (and they are not easy to come by), something happened. Finally, months later, we finally got to go and were joined by my friend Dani who recently moved here, and her mom who was visiting from Brazil. In between their shopping, they sneaked in some time to eat…..
Expectations were obviously very high, as many people deem it to be a 10 on every level. The service was friendly, attentive and fantastic and our waitress was knowledgeable and willing to bring us a few wine samples until we settled on what we wanted to order. She also mentioned that they try their hardest not to kick people out when the two hour table limit approaches and be as flexible as they can, which is much appreciated.
What we ate:
Pig’s head croquette, fermented chilli, radish: I have to say I love eating with friends that are game for everything and jump with excitement at the thought of pig’s head croquettes. We all wanted to try it as it sounded good and I had seen way too many pictures on Instagram, so I just had to try it myself. They were indeed delicious. Crispy on the outside, soft and rich on the inside as porky as they should be. Yum.
Pickled Shitake mushrooms, soy and ginger: this dish caused controversy. I loved it and Stewart didn’t care for it at all. He thought the pickling overpowered the shitake and eliminated its mushroominess……I agree somewhat but in my opinion they were just mushrooms, that tasted less like they normally do, but that had acquired a different accent through travelling through a pickling jar…..
Asparagus with XO sauce: this dish none of us loved. The XO sauce was way too fishy and you couldn’t taste the asparagus, which is a shame as they are one of my favourite vegetables and are usually best when prepared in a simple way that allows their real taste to shine.
Roasted yellow beans, girolles, garlic sabayon: this was a very small main course and a bit bland. The beans were on the sabayon but all flavours were a bit too subtle.
Bideford turbot, Tropea onion, cider and brown butter: another dish that didn’t blow us away and lacked a bit of seasoning. The fish was well cooked but the brown butter could have been more interesting.
120 day old chicken, asparagus, summer truffle: I forgot to ask at the time, why 120 day old chicken and what it meant. Apparently that is its age at time of slaughter, (thankfully not time since slaughter), and I have to say it worked, as they were tender pieces with a fun mix of gorgeous white and seasonal asparagus and truffles around them and some chanterelle mushrooms sprinkled around. This and the lamb were our favourite main courses.
Lamb special: This was our second best main as the lamb was perfectly cooked and very tender. It was served with al-dente multi coloured spherical beets and nicely tender onions that had a nice sweetness to them.
Crispy potato millefeuille: a must eat side dish. Thin layers of potatoes put together to resemble the traditional French dessert and nicely crispy around the edges.
Cherries, cheesecake mousse, caramelised white chocolate: my friend Daniela is totally cheesecake obsessed so was very disappointed that the only thing cheesecake in the dessert was in the name. It should have just been called cherries with white chocolate mousse as those were the two main flavours. Delicate and light but a let-down when you expect something else.
Brown butter ice cream, fresh almonds and grilled pear: the pears were firm and tasty and the brown butter ice cream added a nice and interesting dimension to the dessert.
Chocolate bar, praline croustillant, Piedmont hazelnut: this was my favourite dessert but I am a total chocaholic so that was to be expected. I also like less conceptual and creative desserts and care more about taste versus creativity, (which is why I love sticky toffee pudding and brownie sundaes for example), and this was tasty with the different textures in layers and with the hazelnut crunch.
Strawberry Eton Mess: to be honest it was not very memorable to me but the strawberries were perfectly ripe and sweet and it came with a nice and tangy ice cream. The meringue was flat and served on top.
In sum: clean setting, great service and some delicious dishes but maybe expectations were too high and some of the dishes disappointed. And do not dare skipping the pig’s head croquettes!
portland Restaurant london http://portlandrestaurant.co.uk/
113 Great Portland St, London W1W 6QQ
+4420 7436 3261