Nov 7 2013

Portal

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I am very surprised I have not come across Portal, a modern Portuguese restaurant, before. Portal is owned by Antonio Correia and is located in Clarkenwell on St John Street and my friend David suggested we go there for lunch. I thought I knew the main and best restaurants on St John Street, but I had never come across Portal, maybe because from the outside it does not look like much, there is a black sign but once you go inside, the restaurant surprises you how spacious and light it is.

When I walked into the restaurant, shortly before 12, first I came across a bar where you can eat a light meal or snacks, petiscos, Portal's lengthy assortment of Latin Tapas. The bar looks very different to the restaurant which is located after the bar and the restaurant is very specious and light due to the big windows and high ceilings. There is also an outside area which I assume they open during the summer and I can see how nice it would be to just sit outside here during the summer, as it feels quite secluded. The tables have clean white tablecloths and it just feels very nice inside. The restaurant also got busy and buzzing during our lunch with most of the tables occupied.

As I had arrived a bit early and was getting hungry, I ordered mixed olives and pickles. I very much enjoyed the nice little pickled vegetables, as well as the olives and liked it so much, I finished the whole thing and wished they had given me more. When David arrived, and whilst waiting for Hugo who was 30min late, we also ordered some Pata negra (Presunto de Barranco D.O.P Casa de Porco Preto) to share, which is almost the same as Jamon Iberico (so Iberian ham), both come from the Iberian pig. You could choose to have 50g or more of pata negra and we chose this smaller 50g portion. The pata negra was delicious, very good quality, loved it.

The menu looked very tempting and you could either order from the lunch set menu (2 courses for £22 or 3 courses for £27) or order a la carte. The other thing that I also thought looked great and very tempting on the menu, was the fact that you could pre-order a Traditional Portuguese Suckling Pig served with Mixed Salad, Esparregado, Crisps and Sliced Oranges, which cost 385.00 and was for 8/10 people (they need 3 working days’ notice and a deposit of £30/ person if you want to order this). I have heard some of my friends go and eat these suckling pigs, but I have never done it myself, but I would love to come back and have it some time. The menu also had a selection on dishes from the Josper Charcoal Grill (very trendy these days, I have seen this in a few restaurants), where they cook meats like rump steal or rib of beef on the bone and all these meats cooked in the Josper Charcoal Grill are aged for at least 35 days and cooked in this grill which retains the meat’s natural moisture and flavour.

For my starter I ordered one of the a la carte dishes “Cod Cheeks with Coriander Soup and ‘PataNegra’” (Hugo when he finally arrived ordered the same) and David went for “Slow Cooked Pork Belly with Red Onion Purée, Honeydew Melon”. I loved my dish. The cod cheeks were so soft and just melted in your mouth and I really liked the coriander soup that went with it, great starter. David also very much enjoyed his dish, and it was beautifully presented.

I wanted to have pork as one of my main courses as by this time I had realize that the menu was very meat and pork focused and I had to have this, so I actually ordered one of the dishes from the set menu, which looked very appealing to me and was pork with potatoes, onions and bacon. I was given a plate with a big piece of pork served on potatoes, bacon and onions. I very much enjoyed this, the pork was soft and tasty and I loved the accompanying features. Hugo and David had both ordered “Slow Cooked Bisaro with Mushroom Purée, Bok Choy, Apple and Raspberries” and it was very nicely placed on the plate and the men thoroughly enjoyed it. We also had ordered some sides of spinach, mixed salad and “ batatas ao murro” or potatoes. The mixed salad was extremely disappointing, and the worst dish that I had here and just such a contrast from the very lovely dishes that we had been served. It was plain, with leaves and a few tomatoes, not much seasoning or dressing, plain. The reason why I ordered a salad is because I wanted something simple and uncomplicated to go with my meal, but this was too simple. The spinach and the potatoes were plain and uncomplicated too but much better than the salad. 

The desserts also tempted us, so I ordered “Pasteis de Nata with Cinnamon Ice-cream” (once again Hugo chose the same) and David wanted to have “Black Tea Panna Cotta with Port wine Crème Anglaise”. The Pasteis de Nata was an incredibly delicious, melt in your mouth type of cake, seriously good with a gooey and sweet centre. The Black Tea panna cotta also looked very appetizing with a dark top.

I had a seriously good meal at Portal. I enjoyed the atmosphere, the light room, the delicious food, and I am looking forward to coming back here more. The only thing that was not great though, but also not bad, was the service. The waitress was a bit all over the place and did not notice that we needed her on several occasions. However they did have a great manager who saw my attempts of trying to get attention and he was always there and recommended us a great wine and was telling us where to get the best Pasteis de Nata in Lisbon, so overall the experience was very positive.

Date: 07/ 11/ 13
Location: Clarkenwell
Price for 3 people with a bottle of wine: £224.16

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Maija rated: 

4.00

Location: 

Portal
88 St John Street EC1M 4EH
London
United Kingdom
Portal Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4