Quality tapas and drinks without a straw donkey in sight
Spanish bars do it so much better. That laid-back European vibe with everyone chatting, drinking, eating, sharing is something that doesn’t always translate to Britain. But if you love it on holiday, you can love it at home too. All you need to do is find the right place.
Porta is that place.
If you’ve ever perched on high stools knocking back vermouth like a local in the tiny little independent bars that seem to dot the streets and squares of Madrid, a trip to Porta will bring it all back.
Relaxed, casual and buzzy, Porta is the neighbourhood bar that every neighbourhood wants to have. Chapel Street is very lucky.
The food is a reason to go but it’s not a restaurant in the traditional British sense. If you go expecting foams and fine dining, you will be disappointed. Porta serves up unpretentious tapas dishes. You might even describe it as the usual fare. However, there is precision behind this small menu of Iberian classics. Patatas bravas isn’t exactly re-inventing the wheel but when the patatas bravas is this good, who cares? From the tortilla to the purple sprouting broccoli with romesco sauce, the same applies. Every dish is simply one of the best of its type. No fuss, just pure quality.
Ingredients are carefully-sourced and you can tell; brothers Ben and Joe Wright hunt down the best food they can find from suppliers all over Spain. Joe Wright then works with his team of chefs to perfect every dish on the menu. There are also regularly-changing specials that you won’t want to miss – sticky cider and chilli pork ribs as well as clams a la marinera are just two of the recent star guests.
At Porta you can really make a meal of it, ordering tapas dishes all day long as you work your way through that second bottle of wine but it’s fine to pop in for a quick drink or linger longer, putting the world to rights over a few pints of Estrella Galicia and some Iberico pork scratchings or some salted Valencian almonds.
The drinks menu is small but exactly as you would expect from someone with fifteen years’ experience as a sommelier and wine buyer and a passion for Spain. Beautiful but also good value. Ben Wright takes care of the drinks offering hunting down wines from interesting small producers and the artisan Spanish gins Vones from Galicia and Xoriguer from Menorca.
Gin and tonics, in their enormous balloon glasses have long been a thing in Spain, before a renewed interest G&Ts took hold over here and Porta do very good ones indeed. Another drink that is rightly popular in bars all over Spain, particularly Madrid is Vermouth or Vermut as it’s known. In recent years it’s started being hailed as the next big thing in the UK drinks market so get ahead of the curve at Porta. Served on ice and garnished with an olive and a slice of orange, it’s addictive.
All this as well as sherries, cava (it’s better than prosecco – trust us), Basque cider and Spanish beers. It’s a bar for drinking as much as it’s a bar for eating. That’s why there are no bookings. Just turn up, plonk yourself down and relax. Great music, great food, great drinks – what more could you ask?