There are some places which I'm happy to visit again, and PORTA is one of them.
From the outside, nothing seems to have changed much. Its lovely premises remains as lovely as my previous visit two years back, but the all-day dining restaurant at the lobby of Park Hotel Clarke Quay has since gotten Executive Chef Alex Phan onboard to helm its kitchen.
Chef Alex's rejuvenated menu is said to present a wider repertoire of well-loved European and Mediterranean dishes, combining fresh produce sourced both globally and locally.
I was eager to see how that would translate to the dishes on the table as Chef Alex holds quite an impressive portfolio from his tenure at many well-received establishments including Tippling Club, Open Door Policy, Sorrel and Restaurant Ember.
As first impression counts as importantly as how a dish tastes nowadays, I would say PORTA has succeeded in transforming some simple-sounding dishes into eye-catching creations that's worth a posting or two on Instagram.
Take for instance, the Chicken & Egg ($14). Never would I expect a pink egg! The egg is cooked in a similar way to ramen egg, but marinated in beetroot juice instead of soya-based sauce, thus resulting in a vibrant shade of pink.
Combined with cubes of soya sauce chicken thigh, edamame, corn and white and purple cabbage in a Asian-style sesame dressing, it serves well as a light and pleasing appetizer.
The Grilled Summer Vegetables with Hummus ($14) is a beautiful terrarium that's both edible and tasty with grilled zucchinis, corn, button mushrooms and pumpkin over a bed of mashed chickpeas.
While lamb dishes usually do not impress me much, I was blown away by the Confit Lamb Pastilla ($14).
Taking inspiration from the traditional Morrocan meat pie dish, Chef Alex does his pastilla by wrapping shredded Australian lamb shank in feuilles de brick, a type of paper-thin French pastry, before deep-frying it to a shattering crisp. Each bite was immensely flavourful without the unpleasant gamey taste. The accompanying yoghurt dip with fresh mint and lime juice cuts away the meaty heaviness very brilliantly, and provided added moisture at the same time.
Love love love the lamb pastilla! It's definitely my favourite dish from PORTA's new menu.
Being not a fan of tartare, I'm not the best person to give my two-cents worth on the Spicy Salmon Tartare ($16) with seaweed rice cracker. But seeing how my dining companion reached over for repeated servings, it has already proven how much she likes the diced salmon that's tossed with sugar cane vinegar, Sriracha mayonnaise, diced deskinned crystal pear, and bonito furikake. Must be good!
Moving on to the mains, there's a decent protein selection such as Barramundi ($24), Roast Chicken Leg ($24), Pork Belly ($26), as well as pastas including Duck Ragout Pappardelle ($$24) and the ever-popular Prawn & Chorizo Linguine ($22)
The mains did not excite me as much as the appetizers did. Not saying that it's no good, but I thought it has stayed on the safer side with just well-executed classics.
All of us like the barramundi. The fish is locally-sourced from Ah Hua Kelong so its freshness is almost guaranteed. Chef did it justice by simply oven grilling it to retain its succulence, then giving the skin a good sear for an ideal texture. The tangy ratatouille paired the barramundi well without stealing its spotlight.
One also cannot go wrong with duck confit-inspired roast chicken leg that's sous-vide in olive oil for 12 hours then shallow-fried.
Other than the wholesome combination of portobello mushroom, sauteed baby spinach, tomato and sunny-side up egg, the soft and fluffy warm brioche buns contributed greatly to its overall deliciousness.
The sweet and delightful French Toast ($16) is also worth getting out of bed for if you challenge me to have it first thing early in the morning lol!
Desserts are also not to be missed. We tried the Key Lime Meringue ($12), Spiced Apple Tarte Tatin ($14), and Black Forest ($14), a decadent dark chocolate cake with Maraschino cherry. Whether you need something refreshing, sweet or rich to end off the meal, you should be able to find something suitable from the menu.
PORTA also offers Set Lunch on weekdays from 12pm to 3pm. Affordably-priced at $18++ (2-course) and $22++ (3-course), it is very worth checking out!
PORTA Fine Food & Import Company
Address: Level 1, Park Hotel Clarke Quay, 1 Unity Street, Singapore 237983
Contact: +65 6593 8855
Opening Hours: Daily 11am-10.30pm
Prices are stated in Singapore dollars and subject to 10% service charge & 7% GST. Information is correct at point of published date.
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