For the past six years, Porteno owners Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz have been grilling up a storm in their iconic home on Cleveland Street, Surry Hills. It's been over half a decade of succulent Argentine-style grilled meats, great tunes and Brussels sprouts, all wrapped up in the stunning décor that feels like the dining room of a mildly hedonistic aristocrat. However, the doors have now closed to a la carte diners at the Cleveland Street restaurant as Porteno starts it new chapter in a new home: 50 Holt Street, Surry Hills.
The team that brought us Bodega, Gardel's Bar and a million and one incredible pop-ups have shifted their lauded dining skills to the space that used to house the Sydney branch of Melbourne's tapas king, MoVida. After acquiring the space in June, Milgate and Abrahanowicz, along with co-owner and sommelier Joe Valore, finally opened their doors to diners this week.
The new joint looks to continue along the same theme of good food and great vibes that punters have come to love from Porteno. The overall theme of white walls, checkered tiling and exposed timber have made the jump over to the new shop, and there's no reason to assume that the faultless playlists showing off the greatest rock and roll acts you've never heard of will change at all. "On the whole, at Holt Street, it is the same Porteño, in a new space and a few exciting additions," the crew told Concrete Playground.
Porteño's menu will see a slight change, opting towards full dishes and a tweaked flavour. It will still be largely fuelled by Argentinian cooking, but with a slightly more of a Mediterranean flavour than the last menu. The new restaurant is a touch smaller, seating about 30 fewer people than the Cleveland Street location. To combat this, bookings for smaller groups are available at Porteño — for the first time.
It's not goodbye to the traditional home of Porteño, as the beautiful building on Cleveland Street will stay in the family. Milgate, Abrahanowicz and Valore intend to use the space for weddings and events, now offering the main dining floor, which can handle you and 129 of your mates for a dinner, or 200 people for a cocktail deal. Gardel's Bar, including the Evita Room, can cater for 50 people dining, or a whopping 160 people for a party. These parties will even include the odd live music gig. "We've been fortunate enough in the past to have several opportunities to host some great live music in Gardel's Bar, and will certainly hope to continue to do so," say the lads.
So, while it's sad to say goodbye to Porteno at Cleveland Street, it's akin to when your best mate moves from Newtown to Erskineville — your favourite people are still just around the corner.
Images: Steven Woodburn.