Portland: Scandi vibes in Fitzrovia
I'm lunching with a dear friend, Jane, at hotly anticipated Portland; as in the brainchild from Quality Chop House and 10 Greek Street Head Honchos on Great Portland Street, not in Oregon, for the record. I'd love to romanticise about a leisurely spring stroll through red brick-clad increasingly buzzy Fitzrovia, but in all honesty, I leg it there as am running late, as usual.
Since we're in Jane's hood, I'm in her hands. Jane's on the fizz, so I follow suit. Simples. This creamy Spanish sparkling wine (not cava!) Colet Vins Vatua is dangerously good value and it gets my vote. Sparkling and still water is on the house; a nice touch you don't see very often this weather.
My favourite thing about the menu is its size; small. Daily changes mean you could come here a few times a week and always have new options. Again, dangerous. We fire in punchy kimchi, of-the-moment veg calçots, and a cheeky little teriyaki-smacking quail to get the ball rolling. And boy, does the ball roll. Don't know about you, but I find calçots a bit stringy, that said, the accompanying garlicky yogurt is the bees knees. Tangy kimchi marries remarkably well with the juiciest quail in town. Tackling the bird would be an interesting experience on a first date, just sayin'.
Tartare of rump cap with anchovy mayo, grated yolk and bonito is so tender and moreish that the rest of the dishes are a bonus, but bloody good bonuses at that. I must say, it is a relief to see some greens on the table, in the form of baby gem with bright radishes. Anyway, enough of that, pressed crispy potatoes are a fine example of underselling and over delivering; think rosti meets fondant potatoes meets triple cooked duck fat chips.
Perfectly cooked flaky cod comes with ponzu-drenched leeks, the outcome being an explosion of vinegar, which isn't ideal. A creative pairing of salsify with Bermondsey hardpress and black truffle is so sweet it should be a dessert. Now, this doesn't sound terrific, but it is my sort of dessert.
I could be whisked away by the vibes in this Scandi-styled place for the afternoon but alas I've got to shoot. Espressos are ace and the little Rolo-esque petits fours are a real treat. Let's have a party in their private dining room downstairs.
Five Very Kerri things about Portland
- Spanish sparkling wine (not cava!)
- Underselling and over delivering
- Sparkling water on the house
- Passionate peeps
- A rocking private dining room