Portico – Robust Flavours with Offbeat Touches
Helmed by Executive Chef Leandros Stagogiannis (formerly from The Fat Duck, UK and local outfits FiftyThree and St Pierre), Portico presents original hearty home-style creations using the best seasonal and fresh ingredients sourced locally where possible.
Portico, meaning ‘porch’ in Italian, is where family, friends and guests are invited into the home. Owners Alicia and Sean also own and manage Cicely Kitchen and Le Patio respectively. They got acquainted then and decided to embark on this collaboration since March as both saw the potential and shared a similar vision for transforming this charming little location.
Paying close attention to details, every piece of furniture is hand-picked to create a homely atmosphere. Besides a series of unique crockery commissioned from a local ceramic artist specially for Portico, the showpiece coffee machine christened ‘Lola’, is a one-of-a-kind custom-ordered and built Kees van der Western ‘Spirit’ which renders the perfect cuppa.
The inspired all-day menu is conceptualised on the premise of offering guests a variety of delectable choices any time of the day. From moreish bites, comforting soups, refreshing salads to hearty pies and sandwiches, substantial main courses and satisfying desserts, Portico’s menu showcases simple and uncomplicated cooking.
A series of imaginative refreshing salads include a Grape and quinoa salad, sugar snap peas and fresh raspberries ($14) – a vibrant display of textural contrasts and tastes. The grapes and compressed watermelon are soooo sweet!
Chef Stagogiannis has also created an irresistible Crispy sweetbread, onion puree and heart of palm salad ($17/$29). If you think it is just a type of bread which is sweet, you are wrong. Sweetbread is *swallows saliva* a meatier gland of the throat from a calf. The golden nuggets of sweetbread impeccably-paired with a sweet caramelised onion paste and thin strips of fresh heart of palm. Okay before you screech, it actually tastes similar to a tender piece of chicken thigh lah, so don’t think too much about it when you eat.
Besides the ubiquitous sides, you can also opt for snacks such as Crispy soft shell crab ($9.50) and Fried Herb-Crusted Chicken Wings ($7) among others, all of which are served with a piquant tomato and ginger, garlic and coriander chilli salsa.
An inventive appetizer is Kombu Soba Noodles ($16) scented with truffle and crispy brown shrimps offered a nice contrast of textures. For something more classic, go for their Sea Bass Fish and Chips ($19). The meaty seabass comes from the shores of Pulau Ubin and delivered to the restaurant daily. It is deep fried in an ethereal-light beer batter, it is a hot favourite among my makan kakis and is served with crushed peas and fresh mint.
The main course selection features a spectrum of meats and seafood plus a surprise or two. Pork belly becomes exotic when used as kebab. Hungarian Pork Collar Kebab ($13/$24) tastes delicious with the flavours of the marinade nicely balanced and served with paprika fries, crusty bread and tangy tsatziki.
Red Wine-Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek ($27) is braised in oven for a good 3 hours, resulting in a meltingly soft meat on flavourful Villa Girardi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico red wine sauce and Bourguignon sauce.
We ended the meal on a befitting sweet finale with an intriguing Tart Aux Citron and onion ice cream ($14) and luscious Manjari H20 ganache and sweet corn sorbet, roasted hazelnuts and cashew praline ($16). There are extreme responses for the former because the onion ice cream is uniquely strong. It’s a no for me. However, I enjoyed the latter very much with uplifting sweet corn sorbet and a nutty hint of from hazelnut.
Executive Chef Stagogiannis’s dishes are brimming with robust flavours, accented with thoughtful offbeat touches and presented simply. Dining here feels like I am having dinner at someone’s house. Portico also serves breakfast daily and patrons can indulge in a laid-back morning with an array of baked pastries such as croissants complemented with an aromatic well-brewed cuppa.
Address: 991B Alexandra Road, #01-10
Tel: 6276 7337
Operating Hours: Mondays to Fridays 8am – 11.30pm; Saturdays 11am – 11.30pm