Saturday, August 13, 2011

Porteno, Surry HIlls

Before we’d even tasted a morsel of food at Porteno I already knew I wanted to come back again...and soon! I was so excited about our dinner at Porteno that I arrived a whopping 50 minutes before they opened, even though I booked a table for the night. Talk about keen!

There is just something so joyful about the thoughtful Argentinean inspired decor, mixed with 1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll music and cooler than cool staff at Porteno that had me grinning for ear to ear! The staff looked liked they stepped straight out of 1950s America, the hostess’ with their hair perfectly set, flouncy circle skirts and the guys with their hair slicked back, some wearing suspenders and armbands, others in waistcoats and others in bowling inspired shirts. I have to say I felt like a MAJOR dag compared to the spiffy staff here - my hair was letting me down no end, and my outfit...totally 2009!

If the staff had my smiling, when I spotted two whole suckling pigs and lambs cooking over an open fire on the Asador I fell head over heels in love!

Our party of five are seated right opposite the Asador, and we have a prime view of the Parilla (aka Grill) where we watch the owners of Porteno, Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate, grill up a storm and serve plate after plate of succulent pork and lamb. From my seat I have a prime view into the kitchen where I see piles of Brussel Sprouts being deep-fried and transformed from stinky little balls of yuk into crispy, tasty mouthful of heaven! Until our food arrives out seating seems like torture – tempting is soooo close, yet so far away!

The lighting at Porteno is really dark, and after I took a photo or two (that didn’t work out) I was willing to put the camera away for the night – much to my family’s joy. My nephew then pointed out I need a torch on my phone like he has – guess who got to be “torch boy” for the evening!

We decide to order a share plate each, as well as a serve of both the suckling pig and then lamb.

Torch Boy puts in an order for CHORIZO PORTEÑO ($12.00), Housemade Pork Sausage. In my opnion its pretty hard to go wrong with Chorizo and this doesn't disappoint.

My brother, a Pom by birth cannot go past the MORCILLA ($12.00) which is a fancy name for Blood Sausage that is served atop Red Peppers in Garlic. I’ve always thought Blood Sausage was gross even though I’ve never tried it. Embracing my new blogger motto to give (nearly) everything a go at least once I share a piece with The Boy. I have to say this is nowhere near as bad as I thought. The taste is quite benign and not at all like the metallic blood flavour I was expecting. I like that it is served with marinated peppers as it gives your palate another taste/texture to focus on.

My niece, Miss L, orders the CALAMRES ASADO ($18.00) which is salad of BBQ Calamari with Chickpea Sofrito, Preserved Lemon and Watercress. It is a lovely dish – tender Calamari served with firm chickpeas.

I was surprised that The Boy forgoes a meat dish in favour of the creamy POLENTA A LA TABLA ($14.00) - Polenta with Provolone Cheese. It’s a good choice considering how much meat is landing on our table.

Given my success with the Blood Sausage I decide I’m willing to give Brussel Sprouts a chance to win back favour with me. I’ve always hated these horrible little green balls – I remember being served them as a child – overboiled and bitter tasting I found them nearly impossible to eat. I’m please to say the REPOLLITOS DE BRUSELA FRITO ($14.00), Crispy Fried Brussel Sprouts with Lentils and Mint are a WINNER. This dish just goes to show that deep-frying anything can make it a mouth watering success.

And next the dish I’d been waiting for! The CHANCHITO A LA CRUZ ($44.00) or 8 hour Woodfired Free Range Suckling Pig in English is wonderful. I eagerly snatch a tile or two of crackling off the top of the plate to make sure I don’t miss out. The pork is wonderfully tender and just a bit fatty. The serving of both the pork and the lamb is ample enough for all five of us to have a good sized serve of the meat.

I’m also really impressed with CORDERO A LA CRUZ ($42.00) or 8 hour Woodfired Free Range Lamb. I like the salty seasoning on the tender lamb and enjoyed that Porteno served up crispy pieces of lamb skin (or lamb crackling as we dubbed it) as well as a few ribs to gnaw on. I would be hard pressed between choosing the suckling pig OR lamb on our next visit.

In a scence reminiscent of a food blogger dinner the family decide to order one of everything on the dessert menu – which luckily only turns out to be four dishes! All of the desserts were $14.00 each.

Clockwise from left to right:  Pineapple Soda and Coconut Rum Ice Cream; South American Style Pavlova; Burnt Milk Custard with Orange Jam and Chocolate Ice Cream; and finally Banana Bread with Tea Ice-cream!
Porteno is at 358 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills.  

They don't take bookings for groups less than five, and I think that if you turned up later in the evening all of the lovely meat from the Asador would be gone gone gone!

Porteño on Urbanspoon


  1. I have to get to this place! Reading this while saving yourself for lunch is not an easy thing. I need some of those brussel sprouts and sucking pig!!

  2. Wow, 50 minutes early! That is keen ;)

    Lovely photos, and now I want to go back and try the brussel sprouts!

  3. Mmmm... You had me at suckling pig.. Everything looks amazing!

    PS - You know there's a light option for your phone or you can download an app for it?

  4. good work with the pictures.... it's amazing what a little bit more light can do to photos.

  5. the pavlova is amazinggggg i tried the suckling pig but not the lamb

  6. hey miss piggy! i LOVE this place and am due for a visit! photos look fantastic btw :)

  7. my goodness this place is certainly very special :) thank goodness for torch boy!

  8. That must have been the longest 50 minutes ever! :) The food looks so good! I've never seen roasted pigs/lambs cooked on an open fire like that- it's so cool! haha...

  9. Decor contributes so much to the experience, doesn't it? Especially these days when everyone seems continuously busy, dining out offers respite and an escape from the daily grind and those extra touches just help to transport us to a happy place.

    Oh, and for more Brussels sprouts fun, try the shaved Brussels sprouts salad at Sopra (Fratelli Fresh, Waterloo) when you get a chance - comes with bacon and a poached egg too!

  10. That suckling pig is amazing! They should call it awesome pig! Love chorizo, I cook with it heaps.

    After reading your review, I wanna head out there now sooner than planned

  11. That's interesting, I've never had blood sausage before and I've always wanted to try it.. though when I do see it on the menu I'm never brave enough to order it haha

  12. This whole meal is amazing and making me rethink my tapas rule

  13. I love morcilla, glad you gave it a go. Food looks awesome but I'm afraid of spending big bucks and not finding it as good as in Argentina.

  14. When I saw the guys making those brussel sprouts on a master class on MasterChef, I thought puke, so oily. You didn't mention they were oily, so I know they must be okay, will give them a go.

  15. I need to go back or tomorrow or both. The food is amazing. Great post and snaps for trying the morcilla. I'm such a chicken when it comes to blood sausage!


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