After the whole Viajante fiasco, I’d given up on the idea of finding a warm, cosy Portuguese restaurant that would make me feel better whenever I’m homesick. I can’t say I found anything of the sort yet, but a restaurant in Islington has recently given me a bit of hope.
Unlike Viajante, Portal is a restaurant looking to be considered Portuguese, and what’s great about it is that it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to look like a sloppy tavern and serve “ultra-traditional” dishes – by which I mean food that tastes good to people who are familiar with it but doesn’t exactly attract newcomers because they don’t know what it is and, frankly, have no interest in finding out about it.
I was actually amazed at how many people from other countries and cultures were having dinner there. I was able to talk to the chef, Victor Felisberto, and he, in turn, was surprised that there was a group of Portuguese clients that night.
He said Portal usually welcomes a lot of English people, but that Portal’s food can adapt to any taste, which I agree. Some dishes have a slight Italian twist, others are purely traditional, and a couple reveal a bit of English influence. In any case, Portal offers a variety of choices while still respecting the basics of Portuguese food.
I guess Portal could also be considered fancy, and it certainly isn’t cheap, but it does justice to Portugal’s unique culinary and dares to be original by modernizing some of its traditional dishes.