51 Upper Berkeley Street, Marylebone, London W1H 7QW
Visit the Website 0207 723 8996
A frequent visitor to Home House, which is a few minutes away, I was excited to hear of a new pub opening in the area which is easily accessible. On a great corner location, a stone's throw from Oxford Street, Bond Street and Marylebone High Street lies 'The Portman' in a locale known as Portman Village. The company behind Marlyebone's newest gastro style pub, previously the 'Mason's Arms', is the Meredith group which also runs Mayfair's the Only Running Footman and the the House in Islington.
It's clear a lot of thought has gone into the look and feel of both the exterior and interior, it's simple, unfussy and has a clean identity. On entering downstairs although small, it's comfortable, inviting and strikes me immediately as a place I'd drop in for an impromptu beer, be happy meeting my mum or having a work meeting. A quick glance at the drink selection confirms this and I'm pleased to see that the upstairs 'dining room' is as elegant as I expected. I always appreciate a comfortable pub which has the right duality in offering something more refined you can slip off to before heading back to base. When done right it can be ethereal and allow you to opt in for the myriad of people you may have to meet whilst staying in one building.
Ok, the food will now have to really shine as I've already succumbed to the useful location, visual appeal of the place and ambience. I begin with the Endive salad with stilton and a balsamic dressing which was well presented, light and as it's a dish I've had many times before; a good gentle introduction to most mains. My companion opted for the Dorset crab and Avocado salad, which looked inviting and hit the right notes. So far so good, the food is not blowing us away but it's the way it should be and at £6-7 per starter is priced well. As a main I chose the Holcot Estate partridge which was cooked close to perfection. It was deep in flavour, balanced well with apples and a blackberry jus and I could tell was cooked by a chef who clearly enjoys cooking game. My date had the Lemon sole which was exactly as it should be. Light, with the right notes of acidity and some punchy capers coupled with a familiar pairing of lentils and panchetta to bring it together.
This is good food, it's happy food and it's thoughtful. We skipped desert as time was ticking but with a sticky toffee pudding, a lemon tart and chocolate parfait amongst other classics on the menu I'm fairly certain they would hit the mark. Noted were the extremely warm staff and the wine recommendation which was a Sav Blanc de Touraine from France which worked well.
Suffice to say I will be returning for what could be a beer that turns into supper and ends in a late cocktail at the bar. The balance is right here, if the service remains the same I envisage this becoming a resounding success.