February 5, 2016
Situated at the former The Prime Society on Block 10 at Dempsey Hill, Portico Prime is the newest kid on the block that will leave you spell-bound with its visually stunning and charmingly delectable food.
With a young and refreshing team, all under the age of 30 and helmed by Executive Chef, Nixon Low, Portico Prime provides a platform for creativity at work, showing off their unconventional skills in their first ever dinner menu. Though not available yet, weekend breakfast, lunch and high tea menus are definitely something to look out for.
Upon entering Portico Prime, I could fully appreciate the generosity of spatial arrangements in the restaurant, stripping down to its basics and baring its charming simplicity. It is exceptionally spacious with an industrial chic layout, very clean and albeit minimalistic, exuding a refined charm with its functional beauty.
Still retaining elegance and sophistication, Portico Prime ensures that its interior matches up to its visually enticing food, complementing each other and giving their customers an extraordinary gastronomical experience.
Not going to lie, I do take into consideration a restaurant’s interior because first impressions are crucial and Portico Prime has just ticked every box on my checklist.
There are various seating arrangements to choose from, be it catering to your company’s party or for a romantic first date. There are sections that can be closed off from the public, seating up to 12 to 20 party pax, there’s the al fresco dining area for a dreamy date or the stylish interiors for a dinner catch up.
Much like its first branch of Portico, Portico Prime still prides itself to its values, that is being sustainable and reducing carbon footprint. The owner of the restaurants strongly believes in those values and puts in his utmost best to source for ingredients locally, giving more opportunities for the local marketplace and also maintaining the ingredients’ freshness.
Portico Prime continues to get their fresh fish from Tiberas Harvest, which is near Pulau Ubin. The fish used are obtained within two hours of it being slaughtered and gets new stock every two days to ensure that the food produced is as fresh as it gets.
Portico Prime is also the only restaurant in Singapore to serve lavishly streaked wagyu steaks from the famous Tochigi prefecture in Japan that will promise a melt in your mouth experience.
Other than that, Portico Prime gets their fresh vegetables from the local farms at Lim Chu Kang. They are looking to include frogs in their menu soon and will also be locally sourced there.
Also, the garnish they use in their fishes are actually grown in the mini garden right outside the restaurant. If all these doesn’t send a warm fuzzy feeling in you, you just might need to double check if you’re a reptile.
In House Bread served with Seaweed Butter. Didn’t I mention creativity before and here’s Portico Prime living up to expectations without even starting with their entrees. The butter is creamy, not too overpowering and goes well with the sun-dried tomato bread.
The seaweed butter is slightly more salty, which makes it a perfect companion to the herbed foccacia that is lighter in taste, bringing out the savoury side of the butter.
Collection of Heirloom Tomatoes ($24). The chef gave special attention to the temperature of the ingredients and made sure they blended together, creating a dish that has three different textures from the varying temperatures. The heirloom tomatoes are at room temperature, a slight tangy taste that goes hand in hand with the sweet and chilled melons.
The crisp serrano ham is savoury and that directly contrasts the honey melon sorbet in a complementary fashion as well. Organic quinoa and marinated hijiki seaweed lends an extra texture to the dish while the salty and sweet, hot and cold pairs do its magic.
Caramelised Leek and Potato Soup ($22). Boldly different, the soup is served in front of you, unto the golden brown brioche with a slice of lightly charred smoked eel. Definitely savoury in taste, the soup might have been a been too salty but this is offset by the crisp brown brioche. The charred eel lends an extra smokiness to the soup while remaining tender.
I really like the idea of having the brioche inside the soup, unlike the usual by-the-side accompaniment. Also, since the buttery flavour of the brioche gives an extra layer of flavour and it doesn’t get soggy even after sitting in the soup, owing to the crispy exterior.
The soft and fluffy interior soaks up the soup when cut and creates a creamy and decadent flavour when combined with the soup.
Pan Seared Pulau Ubin Barramundi ($38). The fish, as mentioned earlier, is freshly obtained from Tiberias Harvest no longer than two hours after it is slaughtered and the stock is kept fresh at a turnover rate of every two days. Being a huge fan of the underwater race and by that I mean I’m their greatest enemy, I was really comforted when I dug in.
The barramundi’s flesh is extremely sweet, mild and tender. It is cooked to the right texture, remaining delicate and still juicy while the skin is crunchy, giving rise to two different textures that work well together. It is well seasoned and served with carrot ginger puree, trout buerre blanc sauce and roasted ratte potatoes.
The carrot ginger puree provides a balance for the savoury fish, a refreshing change to cleanse the palate. Biased as I can be when it comes to fish, I’d definitely recommend this dish when at Portico Prime.
Tochigi Prefecture Wagyu A4 Ribcap ($58/100g). Oh you A4 sweetheart, just take a good look at your beautiful streaks of liquescent fats that promises nothing but only the best melt in your mouth experience. Also, can we please give attention to how nicely done a medium rare this wagyu steak is.
Served with vine cherry tomatoes, roasted ratte potatoes and signature truffle beef sauce, the steak thaws away and combines with the sauce to give a richly decadent robust flavour. I’d recommend this to those looking for an extra decadent evening but I can’t promise your waistline being too pleased about it, but hell.
Deconstructed Blackforest ($17). I can’t praise this bowl of happiness enough. When it arrived on the table, my dining partner and I were in awe of it’s presentation and subsequently the taste when we finally parted with its beauty. Throughout the eating process, we kept repeating ourselves on how delicious this is. She even mentioned how glad she is to not have to share this with me and boy do I agree.
70% Valrhona dark chocolate mousse, edible hazelnut soil, cherry coulis and caramel ice cream, I half expected the dish to be smaller and served on a much too fancy plate because that’s what deconstructed stuff always looked like. Portico Prime defies all of that, the portion is hearty and I love it. It’s served in a bowl, making it easier to eat from and still remains elegantly beautiful.
The mousse is creamy, not overly sweet and sometimes minty and floral from the garnish, which is grown just right outside the restaurant if you needed a second reminder. The tangy cherry coulis complements the sweet caramel ice cream and mousse to give the base of the blackforest and finally the brandied cherries finishes the dessert, or so you think.
There’s the hidden hazelnut soil, that gives the extra crunchy texture but there’s another surprise in there, popping candy. In the midst of all that hazelnut soil lies a small handful of popping candy that adds the extra sweetness and that extra pop to the flavour. I like how it isn’t too overpowering, I have had some places add in too much popping candy. Over here, it is subtle and nice.
‘Naphung’ Honey and Thyme Creme Brulee Coconut Tart ($15). This creme brulee is unlike the usual sugar laden ones, it is made with honey with the top still torched to a golden brown, lending it a milder taste yet still creamy custard taste.
It is speckled with thyme, giving a slight herbed note to the sweet custard. The slices of grapefruit were refreshingly sour but it kind of overpowers the creme brulee, since it is milder than normal ones.
This is definitely an interesting rendition of the creme brulee but my heart has already been stolen by the deconstructed black forest from earlier.
Portico Prime now serves a comprehensive list of tea from Twinnings alongside Pollenation’s honey, a locally harvested honey that is milder and delicate, slightly floral and not as thick as the honey harvested from Australia. The coffee beans used are curated and sourced from Dutch Colony.
If you haven’t already noticed by now, the dishes are visually stunning with all the floral garnishes and special care to how it is presented on the table. It has definitely scored aesthetic points and taste wise, it hasn’t let me down one bit. Tasting just as good as it looks and with an incredible concept of self sustainability with locally sourced ingredients, I would be lying to say I’m not sold.
With a prime location, excuse my pun, and an inviting space, I’d definitely recommend visiting Portico Prime for an aesthetically pleasing and exceptional experience for your tastebuds.
Expected Damage: $60 – $70 per pax.