I was lamenting the fact that we hadn’t gone anywhere nice to eat for a long while after we got back from Italy – all the restaurants we tried were places near work for lunch, and we hadn’t really travelled very far out in search of edible food. So one friday when we amazingly had no plans, we decided to head to Portico in Labrador Park. (It’s really hard to find on foot! But is such a nice drinking place if you come in the evenings.)
We started with the salt and pepper squid, actually calamari, and battered at that. It wasn’t bad though, especially with the chipotle aioli it came with.
I wasn’t too hungry so I ordered the tomato and caramelized onion tart – basically tomato slices, caramelized onions, and parmesan cheese on a disc of flakey, buttery puff pastry. The combination was divine. Probably the best tomato and caramelized onion tart as far as those go!
LZ had the Portico burger. We subbed the pickled beetroot for fries. It’s a mountain of a burger, we basically cut it in half and ate it layer by layer – there’s no way that would fit in anybody’s mouth. It was very nicely done though, and is new on the menu. The patty was very good, as was the bacon and the BBQ sauce. There was also a bit of tomato salsa slathered onto the top bun, something like the marinara sauce you get with your mozzarella sticks in the US, quite umami-filled and different from regular ketchup which is sweeter.
For dessert, we had the toasted rice panna cotta with matcha sponge and azuki beans – you can really taste the toasted rice in the custard. I thought the combination was a little strange though. Looks pretty, but the matcha sponge was not very matcha-ey and I prefer a regular, well done panna cotta than all this fusion weirdness.
The other dessert we got was the platter of goreng pisang with amedei ganache and cashew praline (very salty!) Also kind of strange. The amedei ganache was good but you’ve got to like good, dark chocolate. Not worth the price tag, although the presentation was very nice.
It’s worth noting that the restaurant refused to substitute the coconut sorbet for me, since I don’t like coconut and LZ doesn’t really like it in ice cream either. The waitress had to “check with the chef”, and apparently they had vanilla ice cream but the vanilla ice cream is “meant for another dish”, so they couldn’t substitute it, which is the most ridiculous excuse I’ve ever heard. To be fair the coconut sorbet turned out to be powdery and fluffy, more of a textural novelty than an actual sorbet, (I still didn’t eat it), but I think such inflexibility reflects badly on restaurants.
Also the waitstaff don’t seem to be too well versed on the menu. When I asked our waitress if there were specials, she said they didn’t have specials (or rather, she hemmed and hawed and I basically said “You don’t do specials?” so she just had to say “yes”), and then proceeded to tell us which items on the menu were new. The only word she knew/understood in the “Cassoulet of white beans and spicy chorizo sausage” was “sausage” and she accordingly introduced the dish with “There’s also this sausage thing… *point point*”…. Well done! Is it because it’s the school holidays and all the restaurants are now flooded with part timing students?
I liked the food though, so if you’re not too concerned with service (I think most singaporeans are not), this place is perfectly fine. The service isn’t bad or rude or anything either, just clueless.