Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Portman restaurant - perfect for intimate dinners

The Portman - perfect for an intimate meal

Address: 51 Upper Berkeley St,
Marylebone, London W1H 7QW
Phone: 020 7723 8996
Nearest Tube station:
Marble Arch

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £50pp
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: ***
Service: ****
Ambience: ****
After a quick visit to Selfridges, TT rests her legs at The Portman and here's her take on it.

I find post shopping dining frustrating. What one would like after a long day of trawling the streets for bargains is to have a delicious meal in a nice ambience to wrap things up. A sort of pat on the back for all the bargains scored or a consolation in the event that one has simply netted nothing for the day. However the dining options at Oxford Circus seem not to be able to match up to its retail offerings. Time after time I had to make do with a highly unsatisfactory meal from the usual high street suspects.

I was thus thrilled to be invited to the restaurant at The Portman. The Portman is conveniently situated in Portman Village near Marble Arch and Oxford Circus tube stations and could be the answer to my post shopping dinning dilemma. The Portman has a very lively pub on the ground floor as we discovered when we turned up on a Thursday evening. With Thursday being the new Friday these days, the pub was packed, its clientele being the well suited crowd one would expect to see in Marylebone. Amazingly the restaurant located on the first floor was immune from the noise emitting from the ground floor. They have gone for the heritage look in the restaurant which together with the quiet setting would make it lovely for an intimate meal.

The restaurant menu was an interesting read. They have the classic pub fare - burger, pie, fish and chips and more refined but nonetheless traditional options in the form of game and steak. Perhaps to mix things up a little bit or to ensure that they do have something for everyone they have dishes from around the world too - vegetable tempura and lamb curry.

Hereford snails

For starters, my friend had English Hereford snails while I opted for crispy quid. The menu stated that the snails were cooked in garlic butter with Bourguignon jus (a red wine based sauce). Now snails are something that you just can't sit on the fence on - you either love it or hate it. Like Marmite perhaps. Something about garlic just brings out the best in snails but here my friend could not really taste the garlic only the slightly sweet jammy taste of the jus which in this case emphasized the rubberiness of the snails.

Crispy squid

The crispy squid was accompanied by chilli, spring onion and coriander and a lime aioli. It reminded me somewhat of the version at Isarn. The squid had a good crunch and the chilli served to liven things up a bit.

Cote de boeuf

I had the cote de boeuf for my main. A cote de boeuf is one rib from a traditional rib roast of beef and I was warned by the staff that it would be enormous. It did turn out to be huge but it was exquisite so I had no problem with having the huge slab to myself. I ordered it medium and it turned out brilliant. It was juicy and succulent everything that you want your steak to be. It was accompanied by stealth fries which the staff explained to be simply slim cut chips. They were really crispy and did justice to the cote de boeuf. The dish was easily the star of the night hands down.

Wild sea bass

My friend had the wild sea bass fillet pan fried and served on a bed of Swiss chard. He thought it ticked all the boxes but lacked the wow factor. While crispy it was on the dry side.

Chocolate brownie

The desert menu in contrast to the selection for mains was quite short with only 4 choices. I toyed with the idea of ordering the exotic sounding lavender yogurt but ended up with the safe option - toffee pudding. My friend went for the equally safe chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. These comfort dishes were the perfect way to round up an evening of good food.

Service was excellent. We being the only diners for the better part of the evening had the exclusive attention of a very smiley waitress. Would I be returning? Well, the cote de boeuf alone is worth the trip.

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