Alumni of St John restaurant in Farringdon pop up all over London these days, and the new head chef at Portobello House is one of them. Having also worked at the Anchor & Hope and Hereford Road, Araldo De Vitis comes with a decent set of credentials. Blending this experience with his Italian heritage, he includes dishes such as own-made pappardelle with beef ragù and braised ox cheek pie on his menu. In keeping with the venue’s gastropub vibe, there’s also a burger on offer.
A Polpo-esque starter of grilled cuttlefish was served on a bed of pearl barley cooked in the creature’s ink. Though satisfyingly smoky and full of earthy tones, it could have done with more than the measly pinch of herb, lemon zest and garlic-based gremolata that it was scattered with.
The pastry on our ox cheek, bacon and mushroom pie was light and crisp, but the tender meat was somewhat masked by too much tomato purée. Despite the menu reading so well, we found the dishes didn’t deliver all that they promised. With a few tweaks it could easily go from average to very enjoyable, but for now it’s could try harder.