We recently went for our second Saturday lunch at Portico, Alexandra Road, and just like the first time, this little gem of a restaurant was not busy at all. I’ve had to queue for half an hour if not more to get a seat at far less deserving weekend joints. Maybe it’s due to the location which is a little out of the way, tucked in a fairly uninspiring office compound opposite Labrador Park MRT (not in prime Dempsey or Orchard brunch territory) but it is well worth a visit, and once you are there, seated either outside in the beautiful green covered terrace or in the homely inside space, the experience is FAR from uninspiring.
We first discovered Portico when looking for a lunch venue to reward ourselves at the end of a long hot morning’s walking from Mount Faber. It fit the brief, being conveniently located a short stroll from the end of the Forest Walk before you go over Alexandra Arch.
We opted to eat inside (to cool down) and loved the decor; cool lamps and framed pictures of the staff on the walls. It’s a very homely feel, added to by the charming staff.
It’s when it came to the food that we were even more pleasantly surprised. On both occasions it has exceeded our expectations. Despite the restaurant having a very casual and homely appeal, the food is beautifully presented, inventive and delicious; it would not be out of place at a much more high-end place. The opposite of try-hard.
It also does a cracking value lunch time set menu.First course salad or soup, second course main, and the option of a dessert. S$30++ for two courses and S$35++ for three. I wasn’t hungry enough for a two course meal this time around, so I opted for a la carte, but Chris and our Hong Kong mate went for the (same) set menu.
They started with the quinoa, berry and avocado salad. Simple, fresh, sweet and savoury with a tangy vinaigrette dressing.
Next up was their main of a soft shell crab tortilla wrap. The crab was hot and crisp, freshly fried and wrapped in a soft flour tortilla, with a delicious spiced mayonnaise sauce and salad. This was served with hot crunchy fries sprinkled with salty, peppery powder.
My main dish came out too; the tomato and prosciutto salad with quinoa and melon. It was stunning, like a work of art, with micro herbs & flowers picked from their own edible garden. Textures came from soft ham and some fried crisp ham, cool melon and tomatoes bursting with flavour.
I partnered this with their truffle fries which we had ordered last time and were just too good to resist. Drizzled with truffle oil, topped with finely grated pecorino cheese with a totally more-ish truffled mayo sauce.
The boys managed to resist the pudding course from the set menu (but we had it last time and it was just as good as the mains, baked by their in-house pastry chef) and instead we simply topped off our meals with good quality flat white coffees served with a little biscotti.
Whilst I love that this place is a real hidden gem and a well kept secret, more people really SHOULD go to experience the great food in a charming place, to create the atmosphere that it deserves.
Portico, 991B Alexandra Road #01-10, Singapore