This place has put Cleveland Street on the map, Lebanese restaurants aside. The crowd is young, hip and hungry.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 27, 2016: Porteno Cleveland Street closes on November 27, with the restaurant moving to Holt Street from December 6.
Porteño is one of those places that makes you feel like you're stepping back in time, or at least into a themed party. Between the rockabilly staff dress code and the impeccable fit out (think marble table tops, patterned tiles and atrium), I felt like I should have had my hair in curlers - but that's all part of the fun. The food and drinks are the true focus, and they certainly don't disappoint.
For this reason, it's a long wait on busy nights: eating here on a weekday evening is a safer option. If the weekend is a must, do as we did and await your table at the bar upstairs, the beautifully renovated Gardel's. It's unexpectedly intimate compared to the open dining space downstairs. With an extensive wine list featuring Argentinean highlights, delicious cocktails and a good selection of bar food, some might be tempted to stay in Gardel's and forgo the main restaurant. Either way, don't miss out on the Pulled Pork Sliders or the Empanadas ($4 each), a savory South American pastry.
Porteño is an Argentinean barbeque house so vegos be warned: while there are many dishes to chose from, meat is what these guys do best. The signature is the 8 Hour Woodfired Free Range Suckling Pig ($44), which inevitably sells out fast. On this occasion we were just too slow and had to settle on the Lamb equivalent ($42), an excellent second choice. The Veal Sweet Breads ($16) are rich and delicious and the side of Crispy Fried Brussel Sprouts ($14) is really good enough to stand on its own. While the aesthetic is foreign, most of the ingredients are sourced locally. In all dishes, there's an attention to simple but delicious combinations.
This place has put Cleveland Street on the map, Lebanese restaurants aside. The crowd is young, hip and hungry. Food might be pricey but it's certainly satisfying. And if you can't get a table, head upstairs: the bar food alone is worth the trip.
Published on August 08, 2011 by Angela Sceats