Friday, September 30, 2011

Porteño, Surry Hills

Hey all,

Kickin' off the series of Sydney Restaurant reviews with this meal that we had on our first night in Sydney. One of the many great places recommended by a dear friend in the food blogging community (based in Sydney), this restaurant has really become one of our highlights of the ENTIRE trip! (It's so great to have foodie friends that you trust and whose opinions you really respect in different places around the world)

Next to our dinner at Marque, our meal at Porteño was HANDS DOWN our most cherished, highly missed and talked about meal of the entire trip. And we had a LOT of really great meals during the whole trip to choose from! Was it better? Debatable. But definitely most memorable.

Porteño is an Argentinian Grill restaurant. That's right, Argentinian Grill... We weren't sure what it was, never had anything like it before, but boy oh boy... Everything that night was PERFECT, alright! After the meal, just saying Argentinian Grill makes us go bonkers. Argentinian Grill... Argentinian Grill... Argentinian Grill... Alright, enough.

Though, please don't be silly like me and think that people in Argentina grill meat very differently from every other part of the world. It's just that this place serves Argentinian food and also has a grill. Heh ;p

The signature dish at this restaurant is definitely the roast suckling pig and lamb. This is something you HAVE to order and you can see it at almost every table in the restaurant. First thing every day at the restaurant, the pig and lamb are roasted on the open fire pit for at least 8hrs up until service time. Heavenly, is the word, by the way.

Amazing sight, no?

The interiors were very classic and welcoming with a strong Spanish Casa feel to it, which I loved.

I'm glad I went to dinner with these two buddies of mine. Because there were lots of exotic dishes that I REALLY wanted to try such as pate, blood sausage, sweetbread and so did they. Awesome. On to the food...

"Pan De Casa" -- House Baked Bread with Olive Oil & Pork Pate

Pate was very smooth but actually wished the taste of liver would be stronger for this one. Maybe it was cause it was almost 9pm (long wait for dinner lol), but our bread rolls were really solid and a bit too burnt. Though, I didn't mind because I'm pretty much used to this at most places? Would be much different if you ate at the start of the night.

Pate with Chimichurri and Salsa as condiments on bread

Enjoyed the chimichurri a lot, a classic Argentinian condiment. Very fresh and spicy too. Also eaten with the other meat dishes to come.

Salsa was really great as the acid really helped to "cut" through all the fats we ate so we wouldn't feel as bloated as we normally would.

"Repollitos de Brusela Frito" -- Crispy Fried Brussel Sprouts with Lentil and Mint

Another signature dish of the restaurant. Even if you're not a brussel sprouts lover (which I am), try it! You could taste the crunch from each layer of this tiny cabbage and the lentils tasted amazing too. Yummo~

"Mollejas De Corazon" -- Deep-fried Veal Sweetbread

As soon as I saw this item on the menu, I knew I HAD to order it! Thankfully my friends were up to try it too, phew! Correct me if I'm wrong, but sweetbread is a very loose term for many things including brain, glands and some other innards of the animal. The one we had was the pancreas.

I loooved the sweetbread!! It was so crispy on the outside but really creamy and chewy on the inside, with a lingering aftertaste too YUM! Tasted a bit like fried mackerel/sardine.

"Morcilla" -- Blood Sausage with Peppers in Garlic

This was also really nice, we loved it a lot. Though it was very rich (you can feel it from the first bite) but it had a deep and intense flavour, delicious!

For others, this was not as rich as the sweetbread but I guess it depends in which order you had the food. I had this later after 2 pieces of sweetbread, so I felt it more

Note: Please do not to take more than one piece per person for the sweetbread and blood sausage. Trust me or you might feel really bloated after

"Cordero A La Cruz" -- 8 hour Woodfired Free Range Lamb

Ahh.. As soon as "Hero Dish #1" hit the table, eyes were lit and jaws were dropped. And let me tell you, this lamb was craaazy good!!! The texture is just as soft and moist as rare meat but it had no blood at all! "The effect of slow cooking over an open fire for many hours", I thought. Slightly chewier than the pork, but still very, very good.

And the skin was sooo crazy thin and crispy and all the fats melted instantly in your mouth! RICH, but oh so gooood...

"Chanchito A La Cruz" -- 8 hour Woodfired Free Range Suckling Pig

Pork was another ripper of a dish. The meat was just sooo soft (just like the lamb) and full of the meaty flavour of the pork. Pink, but completely cooked through. I've never had pork that tasted this soft.

A big, thick piece of meat that just breaks apart so easily in your mouth in just a few bites. What a memorable sensation of pork. Wow wow wooow.... Loved them both, not a single dry meat on the table.

If I had to pick, skin was better for the Lamb and meat was better for the Pork. Mmmmmm...

Ouuu yeahhhh~~~~

Big smiles from every one after a truly unforgettable meal =)

So, if you live in Sydney or are visiting this beautiful city and haven't been to Porteño yet, I suggest that you give this place a try!

I guarantee that you will find this meal just as enjoyable/unforgettable as we did. Though, the dishes can be very filling and rich so please order accordingly. We solved this problem by going straight for supper/dessert at Meetfresh in the city. Bright thinkers, we are.

Have fun, you guys!! =D

Note to diners:
(i) This place has got a very, very long waiting queue so please be prepared, but it really is worth the wait

(ii) I highly recommend going in groups of at least 5 to be able to taste the amazing variety of dishes that they offer without paying/eating too much, like we did

The quantity of food we ordered was just nice for 5 ppl, despite having only 3 eaters (other friend joined later but didn't eat). We were visiting Sydney so we didn't mind being excessive because we came all the way and wanted to sample as much as we could. If you can, try and avoid this so you can enjoy your meal a bit more =)

Porteño on Urbanspoon


penny aka jeroxie said...

I am so visiting this place but let me make some friends to share it with first.

Winston said...

hahahha... what are you talking about? you're uber popular and have got so many friends in sydney already, im sure! take greg with you and get him to drive LOL. i'm sure he'll love it too! =D

Hannah said...

Oh my gosh, the brussels sprouts dish and blood sausage look and sound amazing! However, I'm always saddened by the lack of emphasis that Argentinian restaurants place on dessert :P

Winston said...

oh nooo, hannah! i hope my review on the place doesn't steer you towards that direction too much! they had a fair number of desserts on the menu it's just that the 3 of us had ordered too much already (couldn't finish all the food!) so we didn't order anymore desserts to try tho im sure they would be interesting...

but erm... then again, we still ended up going for desserts after. there'll never be a logical explanation for the way our minds+greedy stomachs process decisions sometimes hehe ;p

Greg said...

Penny - OI hit me up when you come haha

Winston said...

lol greg! your first comment on my blog and not even gunna say HI to me? im kidding... have a great one, u guys!! hope to join you peeps for a hang out sesh in syd one day =)

Schmitty said...

As if I needed anymore reasons to visit Sydney! The food looks great, and your pictures certainly do the food justice. Very nice post.

TFP (The Food Pornographer) said...

Phwoaarrrrr, carnivore heaven! I must check it out next time I'm in Sydney. Can't take my eyes off the Chanchito A La Cruz. Crackling talks to me, did you know? LOL.

Winston said...

@schmitty: hey bud, you have no idea how much ive been always wanted to travel around the states too! there's so much i want to do/see/eat there, seriously... maybe one day. do let me know if you ever come by australia one day, i'm sure you'll love it! =)

@TFP: LOL so true! really is carnivore heaven.... even the one and only veggie dish we ordered had to be deep-fried, right? hahaha... oh wooow, it sounds like you and crackling have got a deep relationship going on lol! btw, thanks for dropping by looking forward to your kuching/msia posts!! =D

Michelle Chin said...

This is certainly ideal for winter!

Winston said...

it sure is...! wait, come to think about it, i think i'd be happy to have the roasted meat any day of the week, any season of the year hahahha.... ;p

msihua said...

Waaaaahhhhhhh so much meat!!! Soooooo wonderful!!! Why won't more of these places take over all the vego places? Sigh... Yayy to meat!!!!

Winston said...

i-hua.....!!! im seriously in stitches reading your comment and you know why??? its cuz i felt like those were the exact words and REACTION i had when i first tasted those food in my mouth hahahahahh...

when i wrote, "wow wow woowww" in my post, i really meant "WAAAAAAH WAAAAAH WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH" hahahahaha... i think you would really understand me the most lol!! lets go eat some fatty food someday oke? then we can go out of control together lololol.... ;ppp

Anonymous said...

Oh wow! Seriously wow! It looks frigging AMAZING! We have an Argentinian grill in Bordeaux as well, and now I just have to try it out! =D
The pictures are exquisite, by the way!
(Sorry for the delay in posting and commenting, I've been rather unwell lately.)
Take care, xxx

Winston said...

Please, Marie-Anne. No need to apologise at all!! Thanks for dropping by anyway even though you're under the weather. I hope you have a good rest and recover soon. Am sure Nicolas is taking good care of you at the moment hehe.

Btw lmk how the Argentinian grill works for you one day! Curious to know what it's like compared to this one. Argentinian is SO rare here in Australia, I wouldn't be surprised if it was the only one in the whole country?! Feel better! =)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I really enjoyed my meal here-the morcilla was a highlight as was the meat of course!

Winston said...

Omygosh tell me about the blood sausage... And the roasted cap at the bottom to balance it out... I'm not sure why I haven't heard as much about this place until recently, glad to hear you tried them too. Have a great day! =D

Anonymous said...

I am glad Portena turned out to be the highlight of your trip to Sydney! I love their lamb and suckling pig. Looking at your photos, I may visit them again very soon.

Winston said...

Yes, it really was. Thanks!!! The lamb and suckling pig was out of this world... I've had those two animals many times before but not once has it tasted/felt anything close to the one in Porteno! Amazinggg... There's so much food to eat in Sydney, lucky for you guys! =D

Iron Chef Shellie said...

oh wow! how did I not know about this place!! next time ;)

Winston said...

I didn't know about this place, either!! What a gem... But that's what's great about this community hey. You've got food blogger friends that you trust to share with you what "little secret eateries" to try! Though, I'm not sure how "unknown" this place is to local Sydneysiders, but definitely less known to those of us from everywhere else!

Let me know how you find it if you happen to try it one day yeh! =D

PhotoMonkey said...

Hey Winston

Great Blog post. I will be putting this on the places to eat sydney edition when we head back up there in the near future. I was wondering if you know what the cost was for the two meat dished you had? They looked amazing but wanted to see what the damage was...

Twitter: shark4chipdrink

Winston said...

Hey there! Thanks for your comment! I really enjoyed blogging about it, was a sensational meal hehe. Btw the two meats costed $44 and $42. It's steep but everything else we ordered was in the $12 - 16 range which was pretty darn cheap.

The three of us paid $42 per person that night but like I said, the portions we ordered for were for 5 and we couldn't finish everything. If we actually had 5 of us together, it would've costed less than $30 which is amazing for the food we were getting. You can see the full menu and pricing here:

Hope this helps! Let me know what you think of it if you happen to go there in your next trip! =D

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