Porta means “door” in Italian, and Porta at Park Hotel Clarke Quay aims to be the entrance to modern European cuisine haven. (Interestingly, you can spot door motifs in the decor of the restaurant.)
Taking over the space of the now-defunct Brizo buffet restaurant, Porta is headed by Chef Michael Suyanto who led the team at Bistro du Vin for 3 years. Where they can, they make things from scratch; for example they smoke their own salmon trout ($18). The set lunch goes for $18++ (2 courses) and $22++ (3 courses).
I applaud this move of transforming a hotel buffet restaurant, which usually serves mediocre food, to a proper restaurant where chefs can take accountability. This seems to be the trend of many hotels.
Starters: The chilled angel hair pasta (available for lunch only) comes with avruga caviar and Japanese kombu seaweed, drizzled with truffle oil. The angel hair pasta is thicker than the usual angel hair, more like mee kia texture, and while this isn’t bad, it is ordinary; more of a crowdpleaser than a signature.
The Spanish Octopus ($18) uses octopus leg from Ria de Arousa, which is grilled too charred. But it is on a tangy and slightly spicy patatas bravas, making the dish fun.
Foie gras ($24) is huge and competent: it is paired with onion marmalade, and sprinkled with crushed pink dragee. (Don’t worry, dragee is not a young drag queen, it’s a candy with a hard shell like M&Ms.)
The mains are the best part of this meal. Imported from France, the ravioles de royans ($22) are mini squares filled with 2 types of cheeses. It comes with tomato coulis and pesto Genovese, and the flavor is not unlike cheddar.
Porta has the tendency to over-grill the meat. Like the octopus, the porta burger‘s ($23) angus beef patty is too charred on the surface, but this works surprisingly well because the bitterness of the char is undercut by the sweetness of the ketchup and caramelized onions. On top of the flavors, there is the umami from cheddar cheese and smoked bacon. Very shiok to eat.
While I like the burger, I (and everyone else) adore the iberico pork secreto ($26). First sous vide for 4 hours and then roasted, the high marbling of the shoulder blade secretes extremely umami juices; it is indeed a doorway to heaven. Interestingly, instead of the usual apple sauce and mustard on the side, a pommery mustard is glazed on it, giving it a sweetness and complexity. This is a MUST ORDER.
The desserts are ok. Coconut blancmange ($12) is a coconut custard topped with passionfruit coulis: sour and refreshing. The Valrhona chocolate ($14) is a standard chocolate lava cake.
I wish the service was more attentive and had topped up my water more often and I wish the restaurant takes more risks, be more creative, instead of the safe menu which may be boring to some. All that said, Porta is a pretty good restaurant which serves fine-dining food at affordable prices. There are zero bad dishes, one good dish (burger), and one mindblowing pork.
Overall rating: 3.25/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.