The last couple of times my sister had visited we had tried and failed to book a dinner at Portland. So when I managed to get two tickets as her birthday treat to the amazing Eddie Vedder, she booked her flight and I booked also a table at Portland for a mid week lunch.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect, I admit it wasn’t high on my list of places to try; tired from the night out before, I really had to drag myself out and onto the tube with Luci. I never intended to blog either, hence my photos are badly taken with my iphone, rather than my trusted camera.
Portland opened in January 2015 with the aim of cooking the best produce, simply but with imagination and plenty of care.
Situated a short walk from Oxford Circus on Great Portland Street, the dining room is smart but not over fussed, a bright space with open kitchen at the back and glass front right on the street (it is not every day you see a still very handsome Martin Kemp walking past). They received a Michelin star just before opening their sister restaurant Clipstone nearby.
For lunch, they offer a very reasonable 2 course for £34 or 3 for £39, including amuse bouche, water, coffee or tea and petit fours. The amouse bouche was a great opener for what was to come and set the tone right: crispy cabbage leaf with smoked ricotta drops.
It was not an easy choice for either of us, all dishes had appeal: we picked a Tartare of Dartmoor goat, anchovy, pangrattato, lemon and sorrel and Tuna crudo, cucumber, burnt chive and tiger milk and swapped half way. Both starters were seriously good, the tartare light but intensely flavoured and full of textures, the tuna fresh and refreshing with a beautifully aromatic dressing.
My main was perhaps the least memorable of all dishes we tried, yet it was still very well balanced with carrot puree, roasted Secrets Farm carrots, lemon verbena and a generous portion of Cornish pollock. Luci went for a meat dish with the special of the day, Cornish beef, black garlic ad caramelised onions. It was very tender meat complemented by the black garlic puree very well.
We had to try one dessert, and we shared a slightly odd looking but chromatically stunning Sheep’s yogurt mousse, Gariguette strawberries and wild sorrel sorbet which was really special, the sorbet grassy and summery, the meringues sweet and crunchy and the mousse airy and light, with the strawberries bursting with flavour.
The petit fours were a great touch too – mini rhubarb tartlettes and camomile jellies.
We loved our meal at Portland, the food was faultless, light and creative using seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Service was professional if a tad cold. I now hope to visit Clipstone very soon.