Pear Jelly Petit Fours

Portland – Talent in the Kitchen

So i’m pleased to report, that Dips Dines finally made it to Portland. This restaurant, a joint project concocted by Will Lander (previously at The Quality Chop House) & Daniel Morgenthau (previously at 10 Greek Street), had been on my hit list ever since it opened in January this year – it’s just that every time I decided to go, the timing was very last minute & the restaurant was fully booked. I can now see why.

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We showed up for our late dinner booking on a Saturday night and smiling, happy faces greeted us as we stepped inside.  It did make me stop & appreciate the fact that there’s nothing like a warm, enthusiastic welcome to give a meal a good start.

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Although sparsely decorated and almost industrial looking, the dining room remains stylish & there’s a certain buzz in the air.

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Upon being seated, water for the table arrived promptly.  I always like when sparkling tap water is offered free of charge (along with the still) as it is at Portland, it’s a nice touch.

Portland’s modern British menu with its sprinkling of Japanese ingredients is intriguing, and the focus is very much on seasonal produce.  Don’t expect to be too spoilt for choice however, since the choices are brief –  there’s a handful of snacks, 3 starters and 3 mains (one vegetarian, one fish and one meat).  N.B. out of 3 choices for the first course, 2 of them were raw, which surprised me – I wished there was more choice here.

The wine list offers a great choice of well-priced bottles and good offerings by the glass too.

Bread arrives at the table paired with butter lightly dusted with ox heart shavings – it was pretty nice, but actually needed a bit more saltiness and flavour to have really wowed.

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As our dinner unfolded, it became evident that the Portland kitchen is one that produces very well cooked & thought out food.  Along with some terrific flavour combinations,  presentation is top notch and you can tell there’s real imagination gone into it.

Our snacking began with some wonderfully crisp pig’s head croquettes.  As I broke into mine, a super soft interior of slow cooked meat was revealed, and although rich, I decided that it was a very pleasing little morsel.

Sadly, the miso aubergine proved a little too sweet for me.

Miso Aubergine, Bonito Flakes

Miso Aubergine, Bonito Flakes

I loved everything about our first course of BBQ’d white asparagus, smoked hollandaise & summer truffle – from the elegant presentation to the superb taste, there was nothing i could fault.

BBQ White Asparagus, Smoked Hollandaise, Summer Truffle

BBQ White Asparagus, Smoked Hollandaise, Summer Truffle

From the specials board that evening, we shared the turbot main.

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The fish was cooked to absolute perfection, the accompanying sauce was delightfully light & well flavoured & overall, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Bideford Turbot, White Asparagus, Samphire White Wine Sauce

Bideford Turbot, White Asparagus, Samphire White Wine Sauce

Portland’s crispy potato millefeuille is a gem of a side.  There’s no denying its indulgent nature, but disregarding that, it’s an intensely satisfying cheeky treat.

Crispy Potato Millefeuille

Crispy Potato Millefeuille

A plate of baby gem lettuce was spruced up very nicely with the combination of sour cream & bottarga.

Baby Gem, Fenne, Sour Cream Bottarga

Baby Gem, Fenne, Sour Cream Bottarga

Desserts were nothing spectacular i’m disappointed to report.  Not one of the 3 options jumped off the page at us, but we were so desperately craving a sweet ending.

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So we went for the Fleur de Cao – the one that appeared to be a popular choice as we scoured the room – and it was fairly enjoyable, just not very memorable.

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Now, despite the pretty much glowing feedback on the food, i did have a few small gripes about the meal to note:

– The menu is limited, especially so for vegetarians.

– Although front of house were lovely & welcoming at the start, we saw this deteriorate somewhat as the night progressed, and service became less attentive & efficient later on.

– We weren’t sat too far away from the door & every time it opened, a cold draught swept in and made us chilly.

– Tables are positioned too close together for my liking & the chairs are a little hard and uncomfortable.

Pear Jelly Petit Fours

Pear Jelly Petit Fours

Dips Bites:  Portland provides a great quality meal in a trendy, no-frills environment & I’d recommend giving it a try.  Bear in mind it’s not easy to get a reservation at peak times, so make sure to book ahead (& ask for a table away from the main door!).  Despite the fact there were a few things which could have been improved, the positives were more than enough to outweigh them and i’d happily return.  Portland’s shining star is its food – excellent in taste, quality & presentation.  I’d say this is a great option for a night out with friends, especially your ‘foodie’ friends.

P.S. They also have a private room downstairs which seats parties of anything from 8 to 16 people.

http://portlandrestaurant.co.uk

113 Great Portland Street, W1W 6QQ

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