The Portman (Marylebone): where comforting classics got us curious

When I walked into The Portman, I genuinely thought it was just a typical pub because it looked like a typical pub.
Quite frankly, it is a typical gastropub.
But then we were directed to go upstairs.
And I was pretty surprised. Whilst the downstairs area is more watering hole and gastro, the dining room upstairs is a bit more of a proper resto, with those French bistro booths and soft lights that make everything and everyone look pretty.

There was a complimentary bread basket. In a “pub”? Really?
A carafe of Languedoc-Roussillon Blanc de Blancs went cheaply for a tenner.
And then food arrived in a timely manner.

For starters, MG ordered the bouillabaisse (£8.75) and thought it was stunning. MG’s rather hard to please with food and is a “connoisseur of French dining”. A spoonful of his starter later, I believed him and wanted to gobble up the full bowl. Frankly though, it was a generous portion for a starter and was absolutely filled with fruits de mer. Rich and comforting, it was definitely a good start.

Major food envy.

I ordered the scallops (£9.95) for starters simply because I am on a mission to find a scallop dish that would blow my mind. The Portman’s offering is served with black pudding and a generous amount of pumpkin puree. Molluscs were cooked nicely and I enjoyed the abundance and sweetness of the puree but shake my world it did not. It is, however, far more superior from the one I had at The Ship Tavern.

Feeling like I needed a hefty portion of greens, I also ordered a salad of cauliflower and kale (£7.80). Topped with two big slices of prosciutto, I thought this was nice enough although I would have preferred my kale slightly chewier on salads.

My main was from the specials menu: wild seabass (£16.95) with wild spinach and Morrocain sauce. The taste - and smell - of the Mediterranean was very apparent. The fish itself is light on seasoning but the sauce was bold enough to carry the flavours through.
Very pretty.


MG ordered a pub classic: slow roast pork belly (£14.75) with braised puy lentils, black cabbage, apple sauce with orange and cider jus.


 It looked like a thing of beauty, a plus-size beauty to be exact.


The pork was ever so slightly on the tough side, perhaps just about 30 seconds over. And the crackling wasn’t too crackin’. However, I did like the flavour on the jus and the lentils were delightful. Not bad for effort!

For sides, I ordered the aubergine croquettes (£3.65) which sounded so promising… and looked promising when they came.

I loved the crisp and crunch on the coating but I think it lacked the aubergine flavour. It was quite filling though, and to be fair, a good accompaniment to my fishy Mediterranean dish. I scooped up the Moroccan sauce with this and it was lovely.

So far, we were having an okay meal. Starters definitely trumped the mains.

And then our desserts came.

This face says everything.


I ordered the Ferrero Rocher cheesecake (£6.25), a nostalgic tribute to a) the chocolate choice of my youth and b) the chocolate choice of boys I loved before. It was a triumphant cheesecake in a sense that it wasn’t as rich as I feared it would be nor as sickeningly sweet. I didn’t care much about the Ferrero Rocher on top, but the cheesecake was really delightful.

MG likes his tarts (hyuk hyuk) so he ordered the pear and almond tart (£6.25). I’m not usually a fan of anything resembling marzipan but I liked the flavour of his dessert, too.

I think dessert killed it.

Overall, I thought food at The Portman’s dining room was decent enough. The menu has a lot of classics and comforting favourites. It was nice and cosy up there and service was lovely. And don’t get me started on that cheesecake. Nor that bowl of bouillabaisse. I think with a teeeeeeensy bit more refinement it could just be very outstanding.I was invited as a guest of The Portman but for transparency, the bill came up to around £105.

I’m glad to notice that more pubs in London are starting to revolutionise their dinner/dining room offerings.

Do you have a favourite pub?

The Portman
51 Upper Berkeley St, Maryleborne, London W1H
My meal was complimentary but average spend pp at The Portman is about £40.

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  1. 11th March 2016 / 10:11 am

    Ooooh I would have chosen the same things as you 🙂

  2. 11th March 2016 / 2:39 pm

    You both basically ordered all my favourite things and now I'm jealous and hungry. Waaaaa! All that food looks so so good!

    C x | Lux Life

    • 11th March 2016 / 9:34 pm

      Bass & Belly. Oooh, sounds like a concept resto already! =D x

  3. 11th March 2016 / 9:25 pm

    It's a cracking pub downstairs for afters too! 😀

  4. 14th March 2016 / 2:06 pm

    The dishes seem very well priced for the surroundings and quality of (most) of your dishes! Would love to try! Lots of love, Andrea xxx

    Andrea's Passions

    • 14th March 2016 / 9:59 pm

      I'd say it's better prices than some overly priced food I've had recently! (Mostly hotels too!) x

  5. Chris
    20th April 2016 / 9:06 am

    Your picture of the pork belly makes me hungry.

    I’ll try it and see if they have corrected the issue. Fingers crossed!

    • Honey de Gracia
      22nd April 2016 / 6:03 am

      Oooh, thanks Chris. Let me know, can’t wait to hear your review!

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