For a really special occasion, Portal is the place to go. Exquisite food, excellent service and a wonderful atmosphere is what this restaurant is all about.
On entering Portal, there is the bar area. The restaurant area is slightly separated from the bar and it extends right through into the conservatory. As we were early, we started off with drinks at the bar. The bar staff were really knowledgeable about the drinks and made us feel comfortable straight away.
As soon as the restaurant was opened for the dinner service, we were shown through to the light filled conservatory and our drinks were carried through for us. This dining area looked out onto the greenery filled garden. The tables were decorated with fresh pink roses in black square vases and white square candles. There was also a room filled with neat rows of the different wines at the back end of the conservatory.
The friendly staff presented us with a bread tray which allowed us to choose our bread roll of choice. The waitress was helpful with recommendations of the food and also explained us to us quite thoroughly about the dishes that we enquired about.
As we were waiting for the starters, the staff bought over a couple of canapes, which were complimentary from the chef. These were little biscuit spoons with artichoke purée, topped with mackerel. The canapes were really nice and we were pleasantly surprised that they were served warm.
The hot starter of roasted green pepper salad with grilled sardines was lovely. The sardines were rolled up and on a skewer on top of the sliced peppers and onions.
Both of our main dishes were presented beautifully and looked too pretty to eat. There was a great amount of attention to detail. The Portuguese turnip leaves rice with grilled halloumi cheese and tomato concasse was absolutely perfect. The rice and turnip leaves tower was surrounded by raspberries, blackberries, orange crisps and fig crisps. The halloumi cheese had been grilled just right. All the flavours worked well together. This dish was extremely pleasing to the eye and to the palate.
Portuguese octopus rice with pan fried octopus fillets and watercress salad was the main dish that my friend chose. The octopus fillets were tender and cooked to perfection. The tomato based rice was served from a steaming iron pot which the staff brought to the table to serve from.
Our dessert was pumpkin souffle with strawberry ice-cream. It has to be the best dessert that I have ever tasted. The pumpkin souffle oozed with the warm liquid centre. It was not served in a ramekin how souffles are normally served. The pumpkin souffle was topped with fresh strawberry and blackberry pieces. The strawberry ice cream tasted like we were eating fresh strawberries. It had such an intense flavour. To top it off, the strawberry crisps and starfruit crisps were also great! The whole dessert was amazing.
Portal served us with the most wonderful dining experience and one which we will always remember.
Portal Restaurant and Bar, 88 St John Street, London, EC1M 4EHRating: