Portland Restaurant – Review (Fitzrovia) Michelin Got It Right

Portland Restaurant was opened in January 2015 by Will Lander, he also co-owns The Quality Chop House – he teams up with the talented Daniel Morgenthau, a former chef of 10 Greek Street. They create a 45 cover dining space with an open kitchen, seasonal menu with an ever-changing hand picked wine list to keep things interesting. At the stove you’ll get Head Chef Merlin Labron-Johnson from Devon, former sous-chef at destination restaurant Kobe Desramaults at In De Wulf in Belgium’s Ghent region. Merlin also trained with none other than Michael Caines who holds 2 Michelin stars of his own at his Gidleigh Park establishment – a restaurant I’m eager to visit! DSC04421 DSC04436 The menu format is unfussy, 3 choices for starters, mains and sides with 4 ‘snacks’ to choose from too, which come in a amuse bouche style mouthfuls. It’s good to see a good selection of craft beers too. DSC04367 DSC04373 The Kernel comes with a fruity aroma and is crisp and light, the Duchessa is more bitter sweet and malty – both enjoyable and a nice way to take the edge of the week. DSC04371 DSC04370 Finca Decero Remilos (£37). Full bodied, elegant – a tasty malbec from Argentina. The Birichino St-Georges from Santa Cruz California was quite light and minerally, I’ve had better pinot noirs though. DSC04425 DSC04390 I always blether on about how first impressions count and at Portland Restaurant the bread is no exception. There is a real depth of flavour throughout especially in the crust – of course more was ordered to make use of that creamy butter with grated ox heart. Annoyingly, the latter’s flavour was a mere rumour and didn’t make an impact. DSC04376 DSC04378 DSC04399 White truffle and Gruyére macaroons (£3). A very fashionable slate grey hue but looks can be deceiving as these little sandwiches were a master class, you get the sweet textural chew from the macaroon with the cheese kicking in followed by a whack of earthy truffle. Lot’s of layered flavour and obviously addictive. DSC04379 Lightly smoked trout, fougasse, herbs and flowers (£3). In case you don’t know fougasse is an artisanal bread from Provence – it provided the perfect soft vehicle for that delicious trout. DSC04381 DSC04382 Warm pumpkin cakes, chestnut, truffle, and aged Mimolette (£7). Mimolette is a cheese from Lille inspired by the traditions of Edam – the pumpkin cake was soft and delicate, the cheese nutty and sweet but the truffle was subdued. This one was ok – not as good as the former two. DSC04385 Wild rice crackers, Dorset crab, lime and shiso (£6). Sweet crab dotted with salmon roe balanced out by the citric kick of lime which was lifted by minty shiso. Every bite retained the nutty crunch from the cracker. Delicious. DSC04386 DSC04387 Isle of Mull scallop, chantecler apple, green mandarin (£12). This was excellent and a really clever dish, it all seemed to work together. The base was pastel orange hued butter which is whipped with the scallop roe, it’s clever cooking and very rich eaten alone, it’s made for slathering on that lush bread. DSC04400 DSC04401 Chopped Dexter beef, castelfranco, anchovy and cured egg yolk. Castelfranco is part of the radiccio family, kinda like purple chicory but less bitter and sweeter. The Dexter beef is the smallest native breed of cattle from the SW of Ireland. This seemed to be Portland’s beef tartare deconstructed and it was a decent rendition. DSC04404 Denham estate deer, salt baked celeriac, blackberries, and sunflower seeds (£27). Underneath that soft earthy celeriac there was ample amounts of rich gamey venison, cooked to a beautiful rare. DSC04409 Turbot, heritage carrots, lemon verbena (£26). The fish flavour was delicate, distinctive and utterly delicious with those sweet earthy carrots, every mouthful was grand. DSC04405 DSC04407 Kid goat was an off menu special (£26). Mild in flavour, tender and less gamey than your standard goat – this is down the age of the meat I assume. It was ok but a world away and from the other dishes according to my fellow diners. DSC04412 Purple sprouting broccoli, miso, toasted almonds (£4). This is everything you’d need in a plate of broccoli, charred to a perfect texture retaining all the sweet goodness and doused with the umami miso. As were the waxy new potatoes, smoked butter and chives (£5), probably an unnecessary carbohydrate with such a good bread product available. DSC04413 DSC04414 Desert time: DSC04420 Green mandarin tart, meringue, shiso, yogurt (£8). A cleverly put together desert especially with the tubular meringue, perhaps its Portland’s rendition of the classic lemon meringue pie and it’s utterly brilliant. DSC04426 Bitter chocolate, baked milk, blackberries (£9). An interesting construction of ingredients and craft but possibly not a desert that appeals to the masses, well not according our table of diners. Lot’s of sour and bitter components hits the palate, it’s reminiscent of a black forest gateau but not as memorable. DSC04427 DSC04429 DSC04428 Hazelnut èclair (£6). Decadent hazelnut cream sandwiched with crisp choux pastry, glazed with caramel and delicious hazelnuts. We were so seduced, another two were ordered and became the redeeming dish after a bump in the middle of the deserts and did so with panache. DSC04430 Warm Tunworth, pear and fruit loaf (£6). If cheese is your thing then don’t let me stop you. DSC04432 The verdict: When did I go? Feb 2017, July 2017 The damage: Expect to pay £60-£70 per head with drinks. The good: What we got was a chef and ingredient led agenda, which was pitch perfect in most, there’s definitely substance behind the hype. Laid back and modern with excellent service – Portland is a little gem in Fitzrovia with well executed, well priced food.  The hazelnut èclair is a must and so it the turbot and venison. Those little white truffle and Gruyére macaroons with make your mouth gush too. The bad: It took an age to book a table for 5 as the restaurant is so small. Rating: 4/5 Address: 113 Great Portland Street, London W1W 6QQ Web: http://www.portlandrestaurant.co.uk

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