A friend of mine recommended Portland Restaurant to me – it wasn’t really a “shall I try it?”, it was more of a “when could I fit it into my schedule?”. So by chance I managed to squeeze it in as a last minute meet up with a friend before I set off on my summer travels. Luckily for us they had a table available for dinner on a Saturday evening, so the usual… two excited girls out for a meal that would probably last the usual four hours!
Portland Restaurant is very compact, we had an early dinner sitting, glad that there weren’t too many people present when we started. Perusing the menu, my friend and I were a little caught up with the starters so in typical fashion we both proposed to order several dishes to try, but first confirming with our friendly waiter that the dishes weren’t too large for us to order a selection of. Our attention was also brought to the daily specials on the board… “our eyes were bigger than our stomachs” syndrome came to mind.
So we decided to go for the Scallops in buttermilk, Szechuan aubergines, and Sea bream cerviche to start. Main course was then to be Cornish monkfish, nori, enoki and shallots, plus the Wood pigeon, chanterelles and corn. There were daily specials on offer as well, but we were drawn to our original choices. We decided to also just include a side of yellow and green beans with garlic and shallot (to be good and remotely more healthy).
We were then distracted by our need to catch up with each others news, so we had to re focus our thoughts to what we’d like to order for drinks. Pulling ourselves away from the food menu and digesting the drinks menu instead, my eyes lit up… impossible! By the glass? I had spotted Chateauneuf du Pape from Beaucastel 2007 offered by the glass! My friend had also spotted one of her favourite Italians… Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco 2008, and lucky for us, that was also offered by the glass. With the wine ordered and some water, we continued our intense discussion.
Gossiping and catching up till our starters arrived; remember I said the place is compact? Well, with the selection of starters we ordered, and the size of our table, we certainly eyed up the table next to us to over flow to!
I have to comment at this point that part of the whole decision making process for our dishes and wine was made much more enjoyable by our attentive waiter, James. And I am probably going to shoot myself in the foot but I think not just James, but the entire front of house staff (since I did not have any experience of the others) had a very good relationship with their customers, or at least they really did know how to interact with their clientele. On another view point, perhaps they thought my friend and I were rather amusing? Constant animated chatting, exclamations when each dish arrived and the whipping out of no less than three cameras to capture each dish.
Loved the starters! My only slight negative comment was that the sea bream was “warm” so it lost my idea of the ceviche concept. However the scallops were absolutely amazing… so amazing that we decided to order another… just to confirm that it was amazing of course!
Having made rather pigs of ourselves, we hoped we could do our mains justice. At this point however, I had done the usual social media thing and put up an image of my wine, tagging my friend in the comment – one, it was he who had suggested I try Portland Restaurant, and two, the Chateauneuf du Pape from Beaucastel was one of his favourite wines.
And my friend being also an active social media person, commented back to me with “you must try their chips!” Chips? What chips? We hailed James to ask… slightly puzzled as well but I could see he was not going to be defeated with our request: “He must mean our Crispy potato millefeuille!” And laughingly we agreed that we must order one of those to add to our meal. Chips = Crispy potato millefeuille? Sigh!
Needless to say, we managed to finish our excellent mains; yes the “chips” were lovely too. I am sure the images above speak for themselves.
I do like the paired down menu choices – all the more time to concentrate on each of the dishes – the excellent choice of wine per glass is a big plus, and though it may seem as if you are spending a fortune, if you are like me who can’t really drink, it is wonderful to have a glass of your favourite wine with your meal at a restaurant.
Could we manage dessert? Well actually no… but we had to, so we decided to share the Brown butter ice cream, fresh almonds and grilled pear. We were also informed by James that we were close to the end of our allocated table time, the second sitting for the evening would start soon. He offered us the option of relocating to the bar area to continue our dinner and assured us that there was no time limit there.
Definitely having over eaten, we both ordered some fresh mint infusion to round off our evening. And having as per usual taken a lot of time over our meal (yes we managed our usual 4 hour stint), we did have to move across to the bar area to complete our evening.
Upon adding a shawl to my attire to exit the restaurant, I nearly took the huge flower arrangement with me (rescued by James of course), so I must have liked Portland Restaurant that much to try to take a bit of it home!
A little note that set us giggling: James reminded us of Hugh Grant, the way he spoke and his mannerisms! That definitely added to our enjoyment of the evening! Thank you James!
113 Great Portland Street
London W1W 6QQ
T: 020 7436 3261
Lunch: Monday to Saturday 12.00pm – 2.30pm,
Dinner: Monday to Saturday 6.00pm – 11.00pm
The main exterior image on this post is taken from the website of Portland Restaurant and was taken by Patricia Neville.