Given that I am the least reliable, least time-driven, least task-oriented person on the face of the planet, I am also the least deserving when it comes to being granted the responsibility of managing and maintaining a blog. Any post is better late than never though, right?
What I am trying to say is: this post was overdue four weeks ago, meaning it now sits on the borderline of irrelevance. I could list a string of reasons as to why this is [Christmas commitments, family time, work load, blah, blah, blah]…however, plain and simple, I have spent the better part of the past two months being a big holiday whore.
Yes, I know. I am the worst. But can you blame me? Of all the twelve months, December is by far my favourite. Pending celebrations surrounding Christmas and New Year provide a seemingly endless number of reasons to go all in with unabashed festive cheer. And the icy outdoors provide a great excuse to cosy up over a warming dinner and plenty of drinks.
For this, Portland is the perfect restaurant. Its snug interior and comfortable, friendly service are a great foil to the wintry climes that billow beyond its four walls [until the front door swings open and a cool gust of of the outdoors is introduced to the mix – try and nab a table near the back].
My only acquaintance with Portland had been back when it opened in early 2015. Despite loving the pig head croquettes and the Cornish rump cap tartare, life happened and I never found the time to return. With both this and its suitable setting in mind, I made a reservation, grabbed Champagne Only and ran on down for some pre-Christmas merriment.
We were seated at a nice little table against the wall and were immediately brought a bottle of both sparkling and still water on the house. Such small-but-thoughtful gestures make all the difference! As per always, drinks were first on the agenda. Never one to turn down a negroni, I happily sipped on their version aged with peach and orange peel along with spices.
Warm, crusty artisanal bread was next to grace the table. It was served alongside whipped whey butter with savoury beef heart shavings. I always claim to be off bread, yet I am somehow always the first person to launch into the basket and usually the last to stop. I continue to maintain that it is the thought that truly counts, even if my thighs tend to disagree. But my god, I love bread…and this was some great bread – even if I didn’t think the beef heart added much more than an interesting talking point.
The snacker inside me could not go past a few bite-sized treats to get things going. First up were white truffle and gruyere macarons. They were okay and I enjoyed the flavours, but we both agreed they were a little sweet for our savoury palates. I am many things, but a sweet tooth I am not (much to Food Expectations‘ disgust).
Who doesn’t like crispy chicken skin? Nobody, that’s who. Therefore, our macarons were closely followed by crispy chicken skins with liver parfait, candied walnuts and muscat grapes. I am really good at being a contradictory hypocrite, because I didn’t mind the sweetness afforded here. I thought it worked well with the parfait. Champagne Only was not so convinced – at least she remains loyal to her palate choices.
Unaware that Champagne Only dislikes scallops, I conveniently ended up with an entree to myself. I was grateful this little bivalve had travelled all the way from the Isle of Mull to end up on my plate. It was plump, sweet and perfectly cooked. The white miso was a great accompaniment and the broccoli added some much-needed texture. Great enjoyment.
We each finished on seasonal Yorkshire mallard (wild duck) with Roscoff onions and autumn kale. A very pretty, very tasty, very satisfying plate of food piled high with everything I like to see on the table in this cool weather. In a stroke of Christmas luck, both Champagne Only and I were gifted with a little lead bullet.
Sticking to our guns, we skipped dessert (but were gifted some nice little chocolates – another lovely touch) and instead wandered over to the nearby London Edition Hotel for Champagne under the sparkly Christmas decorations.
I admire Portland for its ever changing, always interesting, forever seasonal menu. Whilst I didn’t love every dish, it remained easy to fully appreciate the fact that a lot of love and thought went into putting them together. This restaurant certainly doesn’t serve up your standard London fare and to me it is very solid overall. I definitely will not be leaving it another year to make my next visit. Shame on me.