The Best Portuguese Restaurant in London.

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If you haven’t been to Portal yet, I suggest you get there ASAP. It’s worth every penny. In a city where excellent service is not something we experience on a daily basis, Portal stands out as a gem with great staff and excellent service!

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Emmanuel Ray and Arnie Hewitt at Portal (Portuguese) Restaurant & Bar, London Barbican.

The delicious food is freshly prepared and the ambience of the place is both seductive and romantic without being pretentious. 

OK, so here’s what happened. I met the Restaurant’s owners at a local pub and they invited me to come try their food. Their manager Poonam is a hot Indian-Thai woman and I figured out that the waiters and bar staff would be good looking and charming too. I wasn’t wrong!

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My companion for the evening was Arnie Hewitt, masseur extraodinaire and skilled actor! One of my interns, Veronica, suggested we pick one of our followers from Facebook to join me for the dinner, which I thought was a great idea. She picked Arnie and we contacted him immediately. Anyway, so there we were, sipping champagne at Portal’s bar and talking about massage and flirting with the barman and waitresses. 

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For starters I had Confit Quail with carrot rustic bread and mixed leaves and Arnie had Sauteed Scallops on hand made tomato and olive brioche. They were both delicious and we shared the starters. I always insist on doing this. Not because I like sharing but because I always want to taste the other person’s food. I offer to share mine out of politeness (while secretly wishing they’d decline my offer!). 

For mains we had Grilled Seabass with razor clams tartan and chive mashed potatoes, and Prawn and Crab Linguine with seafood bisque. Double Yum! 

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Portuguese Almond Tart with lemon sorbet and port, and British Isles & Iberian cheese board, granny smith apple, Portuguese jam and biscuits were the glorious food we picked out of the desert menu. Chef Jeronimo clearly cooked our food with passion and sent it to us in style! 

The wine Quinta do Portal Relato Carm, Reserva perfectly complimented our food. The champagne we had before starters and the port with desert kept us more than happy!

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Two tables away, a bunch of hot guys and sexy girls seemed to be having a great time. Their excited chatter and giggles with the occasional “Oh No you didn’t!” and “OMG!”s not to mention the repeated use of the word “fabulous’ was enough to know that these were gay men with their girls on a night out! Well, it was a Thursday evening, after all. The official time for Londoners and city workers in particular to welcome the weekend with open gin soaked arms!

The rest of the guests consisted of couples on their first, second (and maybe even third!) dates. A few city worker types hung around the bar while a well dressed  elderly couple seemed lost in their own world. She was feeding him spoonfuls of what looked like chocolate mousse. He then held her hand and smiled sweetly, as if to say “after all these years you’ve finally done something for me, my Dear!” Well, she was wearing pearls and a Chanel suit. Who do you think paid for them? Don’t judge me, I am just guessing!  

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There is a smoking area indoors with air circulation (duh!) and a garden with lots of beautiful plants visible through the glass walls of the restaurant. I haven;t got photos of it, so Google it.  The dim-yet-not-so-dim lighting and the spaciousness (rare in most restaurants in the city!) adds a calm and comfortable feel to the restaurant. The music is soft and very easy-listening.  

As Arnie and I got ready to leave I noticed more people arriving. The restaurant was already full (almost). It didn’t take me long to find out that most  of these people were regulars and the place seemed very popular with the bankers and lawyers in the financial district.  

I’ve been to a few other Portuguese restaurants in London, but I can honestly say that none of them come close to Portal, be in in terms of excellent food, great service, the perfect setting, value for money and overall fabulousness! 

Scroll down for more images. Visit  http://www.portalrestaurant.com  for reservations, menu and more.

Author: Emmanuel Ray

Nominee, London Personality of the Year 2012 (London Lifestyle Awards). Winner, Fashion Icon of the Year 2011 (Fashions Finest Awards, UK).

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