29th October 2014.
“I think they are clearing stock”, joked a friend of mine when she saw chocolate in every item on the menu of Portico’s for Restaurant Week.
It was then I realized that “Chocolate” is the theme for this Restaurant Week…although not every restaurant did a chocolate menu. I know Clifford at One Fullerton does that too.
It was an impromptu decision to make a last minute booking at Portico, a relatively new restaurant that opened last year and now headed by Chef Nixon Low. Located near Labrador Park MRT along the Circle Line, Portico is quite a pleasant find. The atmosphere is quite laid-back with a rustic looking interiors inspired by the concept of a porch where the hosts greets the guests and makes them feel welcome. The drawing above was done by Goh Wei Choon, and you can find his drawing at the back of Portico's name cards as well.
The meal started off on a high note with the memorable Cauliflower and Truffle Soup with florets and cocoa powder. The Restaurant Week menu is a fixed three-course menu with no options, which demonstrates a kind of audacious confidence in their food. And this appetizer was quite a winner for both of us with a smooth creamy texture, mellow flavours and a lingering fragrance of truffle (oil?).
The main course very well shows the stage of what Portico is at the moment. It is a Pork Loin served with Smoked Apple Puree, Fried Capers, Lemon Thyme Cabbage and Cherry Chocolate Sauce. I personally find the pork loin to be on the tougher side and the cherry chocolate sauce which is quite salty to be an overwhelming companion to the pork loin. Nonetheless, the dish still fared okay with the smoked apple puree and the lemon thyme cabbage. Like this dish, I guess Portico is still tweaking its dishes and at the same time, willing to experiment a bit with their food.
Lastly, the dessert was a De-constructed Blackforest. For many times, the “deconstructed” raise a red flag for me, in architecture it can be a lazy attempt to come out with some funny form and in food, it can be some lame attempt to put bits of food to pass off as some food that it is not.
However, at Portico, the De-constructed Blackforest is rather interesting and works quite well. For a start, the components when put together do evoke the flavours of a Blackforest cake. On the other hand, there is an added factor of fun with the popping candy and a tweak in the textures such as the ‘dirt’ soil, the popping candy, the rich velvety chocolate mousse and the cherries with a burst of juices that made this dessert quite unique for Portico. Furthermore, unlike some “deconstructed” desserts, this is easily understandable, there are no particular educations you have to go through to make it work for you, the components of this dessert are clearly thought through I think.
The Restaurant Week is a golden opportunity to showcase what a restaurant is capable of and their philosophy in a seemingly short three-course meal. Portico has definitely got the attention of my friend and I. I would love to go back some day even if it is for a cup of coffee, the atmosphere is really lovely and service is decent, not intrusive but attentive at the same time with a slight casualness.
991B Alexandra Road, #01-10