Lucie Loves… Food // #Triedandtested Monday night grub at The Portman Pub, Marylebone
In a city that boasts over 17,000 restaurants - finding a decent place to eat can be rather overwhelming. Even on a week night the best places are often fully-booked months in advance and can leave you walking around for ages with a rumbling stomach.
When choosing somewhere to eat, a recommendation from a friend goes a long way. So when we were recently invited to eat at The Portman, a gastro pub and restaurant in Marylebone, we really didn’t know what to expect.
“The Portman offers the classic pub experience downstairs coupled with the best in fine dining from the upstairs restaurant.”
From the outside, it’s a typical London pub but it’s only we stepped through the doorway and spoke to our hostess Isabella that we found out about it’s very interesting history. According to Marylebone online, The Portman’s large cellar was used to temporarily house condemned prisoners before they were sent to Tyburn – now Marble Arch – for execution.
After that grizzly news we looked at our surroundings with a sense of intrigue. Fortunately, reading through the menu proved to be a much less unsettling experience. We ordered a carafe of 2012 Tomero Malbec and nibbled on freshly baked bread.
The service throughout our meal was very attentive and friendly. I was particularly impressed when Isabella offered me* the wine to taste first. (*Despite it being 2014, when we go out for dinner, the waiter or waitress often assumes that JMG will be the one tasting/approving the wine. Not so.)
To start… JMG is a big fan of calimari and wanted to try the crispy squid, which is served with coriander, spring onions and a chilli & lime aioli. Our only criticism would be regarding portion size. It was just too big! They could have easily served just half of what came on the plate and we would have been happy.
I opted for seared dive-caught scallops, served on a caramelised cauliflower puree with cumin and parsley cress. Beautiful! Such a delicate combination of flavours crafted by The Portman’s Head Chef, Eddie Kouadio.
For our main meal JMG ordered the roast free range chicken with fennel and white wine sauce. I chose the seared yellow fin tuna with herb tabbouleh and a red pepper & tomato salsa. We shared a side of fries and broccoli, but hardly touched the fries as we were feeling pretty full by the time we’d finished our generous mains.
However, we couldn’t resist ordering a dessert to share. Isabella kindly recommended the homemade hot chocolate fondant, served with vanilla ice-cream. It was just as good as she’d promised it would be and well worth the short 9-minute wait. The espresso was good too!
In terms of atmosphere, the background music was a little bit like listening to the radio: lots of popular hits, but no real theme - it hopped between modern tunes and classic hits.
We arrived at The Portman for a 7:30pm table reservation, but in hindsight I should of booked for 8:30pm. Being late July, it was still very light outside, which meant that the quiet restaurant upstairs looked a little bit stark in the daylight. I’m a huge fan of ambient lighting, so as the sunset outside, the candles and uplighting illuminated the room in a much more warm and romantic way.
The Portman is the kind of place that you would take a business partner for lunch or visiting parents for a farewell meal. And I bet it does a pretty decent Sunday roast too! After all, it’s a Gastro pub, which is basically a pub that prides itself in great food. Prices are mid-range but portions are generous.
Our total bill came to around £90 for tow people, excluding service, for wine, starters, mains, sides, coffee and dessert to share.
Check out Trip Advisor to find out what other people are saying about The Portman.
Disclaimer: Thank you to The Portman for inviting us down to try the food and share our experience on the blog.
Photography © Lucie Kerley