Everyone loves the Mediterranean – the beautiful sea, the blue skies, the friendly people, the lively yet laid back feel… but most importantly, the food. There is always something wholesome and comforting about Mediterranean food that is vibrantly colourful and laced with rich olive oil. Porto Fino, a newish restaurant and grocery store on Old Bailey Street is bringing the flavours of Spain, Italy and Portugal to Hong Kong.
The space is inviting, with an open front overlooking the street, perfect for people watching. The entrance is lined with freshly baked bread, before you step into the colourful grocery store, where shelves are stacked full of pastas, sauces, coffee and other delicious treats. Entering further into the restaurant, leads you to a lovely, bright space that makes the most of the long yet narrow room.
We began our meal with a generous portion of char-grilled chorizo. These wafer-thin slices of authentic Spanish chorizo, served on crusty bread, were rich and salty, without being overly so, and went down a treat with our berry caiproskas.
To follow came some perfectly bouncy grilled scallops, topped with carrot puree, raisins and bacon. The flavour of the scallops alone was a little on the mild side, yet thankfully the salty bacon and sweet raisins completed the dish, bringing out some deeper flavours.
For no other reason than because we were curious (and perhaps a touch gluttonous too), we ordered a third starter of mushroom and truffle oil soup. Decadent and rich are the only words to describe this soup; the moment it was laid before us, the strong, heavenly aroma of the truffle oil filled the air. Unfortunately, the richness outweighed the deliciousness and we could barely make a dent in our respective bowls.
Moving on to main courses, one of Porto Fino’s signature dishes is the Espetada, a huge beef and tiger prawn skewer, suspended from a gigantic metal frame. Despite asking for medium-rare beef and getting closer to well done, it was still beautifully tender, pairing well with the slightly crispy braised rice and the equally tender and fresh prawn, making it completely deserved of its signature status.
My personal favourite, however, was the grilled ‘bacalhau’. Cod, done well, isn’t widely found in HK, yet this one, with its lovely flaky, delicate texture, generously drizzled in olive oil and served with ‘punched’ potatoes (crisp on the outside and wonderfully fluffy on the inside), sautéed asparagus and slightly tart confit cherry tomatoes, was delicious, and definitely one I would order again.
Dessert was a girl-sized (as requested) portion of warm chocolate brownie. This flourless, gooey dessert was more of a cake than a brownie (and a very rich one at that, made with 85% chocolate), yet it served its purpose of providing a sweet end to a pleasant meal. The cinnamon-topped vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce was a bonus, even if the berry sauce was a touch unnecessary.
Service at Porto Fino is exceptional, to the point where you start to wonder if perhaps it is a little too efficient, with waiters almost watching your every move. With its relaxed, lounge-like atmosphere and scrumptious Mediterranean ingredients just a stone’s throw away from bustling Soho, Porto Fino offers something different to so many HK restaurants. Therefore, hopefully, despite its $500+ price tag per head, it might just stand a chance of sticking around.
28 Old Bailey Street
Tel: +852 2668 0430