I'd a rather unimpressive lunch at Portico sometime back, and had written it off there and then. So when a couple of friends raved about Portico's food, I scoffed, unconvinced. But when yet another foodie friend waxed lyrical about her anniversary dinner at Portico Prime, Portico's second outlet at Dempsey, I thought I'd give the intrepid restaurant another shot.
I'm glad I listened to my friends: they'd said that Portico's dinners fare much better than their set lunches. My second-chance dinner at Portico Prime, nestled in the lush Dempsey Hills enclave, was outstanding. Not a wrong move with every dish. Execution was fantastic, and each plate was a colourful kaleidoscope of textures and flavours.
If I had one gripe, it would pertain to the indoor premises, which was stifling and humid, despite the tall ceilings, open-concept layout and supposed air-conditioning. The wait staff explained, apologetically, that the exhibition kitchen annexed to the dining hall contributed to the stuffy heat. I think they could do more to turn up the AC, and better ventilate the space.
The Seared Hokkaido Scallops ($14), whilst salty on their own, were perfectly countered with the crisp cos lettuce beds of grated pecorino, a lovely runny sous vide 63C egg, dehydrated bacon, and brown anchovy mayo. An sublime starter to the meal.
A must-try, the Chilled Truffle-Scented Angel Hair ($14) crowned with avruga caviar, crunchy kawa ebi shrimp, and dehydrated kombu shio was intensely aromatic, and insanely delicious. This was generously portioned, but despite so, this was so damn good I was quite reluctant to share.
I'm a big fan of locally sourced produce, so the Pan-Seared Pulau Ubin Barramundi ($19) immediately caught our eye on the menu. The fish was moist and flaky, its skin beautifully crisp. Roasted ratte potatoes were flecked with semi-dried tomatoes, and seasoned with a wonderfully citrusy carrot ginger puree swirled with trout roe beurre blanc.
The Portico's Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek ($21) was simmered in mulled wine for an unctuous fork-tender finish, set on a bed of pommery mustard mash, dotted with sauteed white button mushrooms, and brightened by yuzu compressed nashi pear cubes. It looked a right mess, but wow was this heartily fantastic.
We were on a bit of a carb-binge so we added on a side of Pommery Mustard Mash Potato ($7.50), so airy and fluffy and light, with the barest bit of mustard for a delicate bite, and slathered with a morel beef sauce for extra oomph.
Complimentary starters of freshly baked herbed bread with whipped butter.
10 Dempsey Road #01-20
Tel: 6474 7427
Open Mondays to Thursdays from 11.30am to 11pm;
Fridays to Saturdays from 11.30am to 12midnight;
Sundays from 11.30am to 10.30pm