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Monday, August 28, 2017

Porteno, Surry Hills

Wood-fired pork belly at Porteno in Surry Hills

There are two new things to celebrate about the new Porteno location. One - it's so much easier to get to. And two - they now take bookings! It was a sad day when Sydneysiders bid adios to MoVida (MoVida Bar de Tapas is still open at terminal 2 of Sydney domestic airport) but the arrival of the Porteno crew to Holt Street feels like an easy transition.

The vertical grills, used for grilling whole beasts over woodfire, has been installed in one corner of the open kitchen. It still makes for mesmerising viewing. The dining room has undergone some changes too - gone are the booth seats alongside the former enclosed kitchen. Now it feels much more airy, with round tables scattered throughout.

Counter seating at the bar at Porteno in Surry Hills
Counter seating at the bar

You can still sit at the bar, on new stools with backs.

Private dining table at Porteno in Surry Hills
Private dining table

In the back corner of the dining room (on your way to the amenities) is a large single table designed for private groups.

Co-owner and chef Ben Milgate on the pass at Porteno in Surry Hills
Co-owner and chef Ben Milgate on the pass

The pass has been extended out into the dining room. The black and white tiles on the floor are a nice touch too.

Wood roasted pork belly at Porteno in Surry Hills
Wood roasted pork belly

The open kitchen means you can watch the kitchen carve up meats, just like you could at its former Cleveland Street site.

Provoletta wood fired cheese at Porteno in Surry Hills
Provoletta $26
Wood fired cheese with crushed olives and capers

The menu is a little less meat-heavy than Cleveland Street, with more of a Mediterranean bent to dishes. Do expect wood fire to play a large role in everything.

That includes a bubbling mass of provolone cheese, all oozy and smoky from wood fire. It's a gooey salty hit, especially with the blanket of crushed olives and capers across the top.

Salt cod potato dumplings with king crab calypso sauce at Porteno in Surry Hills
Pierogi de bacalao $32
Salt cod potato dumplings with king crab calypso sauce

The bacalao salt cod potato dumplings are not the deep-fried fritters we expect, instead arriving as baked dumplings smothered in a calypso sauce. Yellow onions and peppers form the base of calypso sauce, a condiment originally from the Caribbean. The dumplings are a little on the doughy side but together with the sauce, it still adds up to a tasty number.

Vitello tonnato at Porteno in Surry Hills
Vitello tonnato $30
Wagyu girello, tuna mayonnaise, preserved mackerel, date and caper vinaigrette

Vitello tonnato provides firm evidence of the menu's expansion to the Mediterranean. It's terrific news for this vitello tonnato fan. The thin slices of wagyu veal are incredibly tender, draped over a silky tuna mayonnaise. There's just the right amount of zing and pepperiness from the capers and watercress leaves too.

Wood roasted beetroot salad at Porteno in Surry Hills
Remolacha con ricota $28
Wood roasted beetroot salad with whipped ricotta, sweet olives, pecans and kale

Beetroots are cooked over, you guessed it, woodfire, their earthiness tempered by whipped ricotta and a tumble of olives and pecans. The deep fried kale across the top is ridiculously addictive, shattering into delicious smithereens with every bite.

Morcilla blood sausage at Porteno in Surry Hills
Morcilla $18
Blood sausage spiced with cinnamon and shallots

The morcilla blood sausage is designed for offal fans. The sausage is grilled whole so the insides remain soft and malleable. It's served with white beans but all I really want is to eat it with a thick slab of crusty bread.

Chorizo paprika and garlic sausage with romesco at Porteno in Surry Hills
Chorizo con romesco $20
Paprika and garlic sausage with romesco

The chorizo is firmer and springier in texture, its garlicky meatiness best savoured with a generous dip in the accompanying romesco sauce, sweet with red capsicum.

Charcoal grilled dry aged chestnut-fed bone-in rib eye steak at Porteno in Surry Hills
Charcoal grilled dry aged chestnut fed bone-in rib eye $120
with wood fired bone marrow vinaigrette

We make the agonising decision to skip the wood roasted pork belly in favour of the night's special, a bone-in rib eye grilled over iron bark charcoal. We're told the beef was fed chestnuts for two weeks and then dry aged for six weeks. It's a special cut of meat.

The steak is cooked to a luscious medium rare pink, drenched in a wood fired bone marrow vinaigrette. The beef has faint notes of nuttiness from the chestnuts but the bone is definitely the best bit, sticky with caramelised fattiness.

Crispy fried brussels sprouts with lentils and mint at Porteno in Surry Hills
Repollito de bruselas $28
Crispy fried brussels sprouts with lentils and mint

And of course we had to have the crispy fried brussels sprouts. If there's a tastier way to eat vegetables than deep-frying them, I've yet to find it. The leaves are browned on the edges so they're nutty and sweet in taste, doused in a vincotto dressing that's just acidic enough to take the edge off the oiliness of the sprouts. Mint leaves also help to impart freshness.

Grapefruit sorbet with Amaro cream at Porteno in Surry Hills
Helado de pomelo $10
Grapefruit sorbet with Amaro cream

The grapefruit sorbet is just what you need after a heavy meal. We can't get enough of this palate cleanser, the fine crystals of sorbet straddling the perfect line between sour and sweet. The Amaro cream on top works brilliantly with the grapefruit.

Tarta de manzana upside down apple tart at Porteno in Surry Hills
Tarta de manzana $16
Upside down apple tart with prune and rum ice cream

The upside down apple tart isn't too far removed from a tarte tatin. The tart is a little on the sweet side but the prune and rum ice cream is something I'd happily eat by the gallon. There's a backbone of substance to the ice cream that feels deeply satisfying.

Milk flan with cream and dulce de leche at Porteno in Surry Hills
Flan mixto $14
Milk flan with cream and dulce de leche

But the hit of the night has to be the flan mixto, a heavenly vision of layered milk-soaked sponge cake with dulce de leche, cream and a bonanza of chestnuts. Don't make my mistake. Order your own slice instead of sharing!

Porteño Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

50 Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8399 1440

Lunch Fridays from 12 noon
Dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 6 pm

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/28/2017 01:32:00 am


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