Portal Restaurant is a modern Portuguese restaurant and bar in the foodie haven of St John Street. The wine bar welcomes guests in with a golden glow, and sets the tone for a relaxed and convivial atmosphere.
It’s here that you can nibble on very good ‘petiscos’ (a kind of Latin inspired tapas selection) and enjoy a selection of great Sherries.
Architecturally, the dining room is stunning: a glass conservatory set in amongst a listed brick courtyard with atmospheric and beautiful up-lighting creating a dramatic backdrop.
Food at Portal restaurant is mainly Iberian-inspired and although not inexpensive, the quality of ingredients remains high throughout the menu and worth the price.
Starters were delicious and we opted for a plate of unctuous Pata Negra cured ham offered in 50, 80 and 100g portions, and some lightly cooked scallops on a tomato brioche.
Mains were split into generous choices of meat, fish and vegetarian options. We opted for the very rich braised Bisaro (a breed of pig from central and northern Portugal) with a side of esparregado, which is a turnip dish and proved a versatile accompaniment. Fillet mignon was served smartly with handmade crisps and steamed baby vegetable as a side.
Service wasn’t always as friendly as the initial setting would have you hope, but staff were prompt, well versed in ingredients and origins. The wine list at Portal Restaurant is very heavily Portuguese and there are some great grapes showcased here as well as a vast selection of Madeiras and Ports.
A private dining room in the wine bar looks perfect for laid-back, chic celebrations, and the bar itself is definitely one to try with friends when you’re in area. For dinner, make sure you’re in the main conservatory and I’d recommend trying for an outside table if the weather permits – the courtyard is a really spectacular setting.
Portal has now closed, but read our guide to the best restaurants in Clerkenwell for inspiration.