So. Yesterday I mentioned that I’ve already decided on the restaurant to support (for the first time) during the upcoming Restaurant Week in October and ta-da, it’s none other than Portico! Main reason is because this relatively new all-day restaurant is now helmed by Chef Nixon who was previously from Petite Menu. Regular readers will know that I used to be the BIGGEST fan of Petite Menu so a visit to Portico for more of Chef Nixon’s food is obviously a must for me!
The best seats to catch all the action in the house are definitely at the bar counter, where a bar tasting menu is served during dinner. The “omakase” menu (changes daily, customizable according to preferences) is reasonably priced at $70++ for 5 courses (additional courses available) and you will be personally served by the chef!
Our tasting menu started with my all-time favourite snack – crispy soft shell crab! True, soft shell crab can be easily found elsewhere but one paired with a salted egg yolk dip? Only at Portico! The flavour was rich and intense but very refined too. Love it!
soft shell crab with salted egg yolk sauce (not on ala carte menu)
Next, Chef Nixon served a duo of sea bass which firmly pushed the soft shell crab out of my mind! Super fresh fish because it was delivered straight from a fishery in Pulau Ubin to Portico’s doorstep within 2 hours of being caught.
grilled sea bass collar and smoked belly over japanese charcoal (not on ala carte menu)
Beautifully grilled collar which can rival the hamachi (yellowtail) version commonly found in Japanese restaurants. Doesn’t need any seasoning at all!
Whenever we eat together, my favourite question to K is: “is the food nice??” (sometimes I asked multiple times just to be an annoying brat haha) so of course I asked the same while he was silently devouring the smoked belly. His reply? “Almost swallowed my tongue!” Ya, that’s how good it was! #truestory
I’ve tried several soups whipped up by Chef Nixon and this veloute of fish and fennel may be the best one so far. I wouldn’t have thought of the combination (well, I’m not a chef!!) but somehow, it works!
veloute of fish and fennel, homemade brioche, cocoa butter seared scallops, marinated ikura, light ginger foam (not on ala carte menu)
On the way home, we discussed the dinner we had (another crazy SOP of mine – I like to do a “debrief” after our meal haha) and K was surprised that I like this so much because I’m not crazy over soups (liquid fills up the stomach, you know!) but what can I say, I really enjoyed it!
Throughout our meal, I noticed that many tables ordered the kombu soba. The portion is generous enough to be a starter to share or for small eaters, it suffices as a healthy main course. And anything with truffle rocks haha.
kombu soba noodles, truffle and crispy brown shrimp ($19++ ala carte)
If I have to rank all the dishes, the seafood risotto would be right at the bottom of my list. Too wet, mushy and way beyond al dente.
saffron seafood risotto, fresh mussels, grilled tiger prawns, green peas (not on ala carte menu)
Honestly we’ve had better fish dishes from Chef Nixon before so in comparison, this pan-seared sea bass was kind of average. Too simple, perhaps?
pan-seared sea bass fillet, new potatoes, herbed beurre blanc and granny smith apple ($27++ ala carte)
Highlight of the night for K was this plate of medium rare Spanish Iberico pork slices. Presa is considered to be the finest cut of the Iberian pig and despite how full we were at this point, K wiped the whole plate clean! A fine endorsement for this dish.
iberico presa, black garlic puree, pork jus (not on ala carte menu)
I’m not a fan of fish and chips but guess what, I went from 3.5 to 10 on the enthusiasm scale once I had my first bite of it! So meaty and soft within the thin non-oily batter! And the crushed minty peas were refreshingly perfect; I could probably eat a bowl of it alone, no kidding.
fish and chips, crushed peas and fresh mint ($22++ ala carte)
That’s not a typo, that’s really onion ice cream! Weird right? With fried shallots thrown in for texture too, double the weirdness! I have to admit that it was an acquired taste but I slowly grew to accept (won’t use the word “like”) it. The tart, on the other hand, was love at first sight. Unique presentation mimicking a lava cake! Best part was the lemon curd – smooth and sour with just a hint of sweetness.
tart aux citron and onion ice cream ($16++ ala carte)
Two chefs working on our next (and last) dessert!
To me, no meal prepared by Chef Nixon can end without his special deconstructed blackforest. I’ve loved it since last year and it’s still as wonderful as before – maybe even better because the caramel ice cream is made in-house this time. Dinner ended on this creamy, nutty, chocolaty note and I’m already badgering K to bring me back!
the blackforest with dark chocolate mousse, hazelnut soil, alcohol-soaked cherry coulis and caramel ice cream (not on ala carte menu)
Thank you, Chef Nixon, for preparing such a delicious meal!
#01-10, 991B Alexandra Road