Sometimes the gravitational pull of a certain restaurant can surprise you, because people would travel far for food no matter what the cost. Porto provides a new reason for one to drive outside of Jakarta. Tucked on the same strip of shophouses as Turning Point and Torigen in Gading Serpong, Porto is as close as one can get to fine dining in the neighbourhood, and an affordable one to boot.
Even with its bearing that resembles a bistro, calling Porto a brasserie would be a misstep. Porto, an Italian word meaning port in English, takes patrons to “visit” various harbours for a world culinary adventure. Therefore, instead of being staunchly French, expect a variety of Western and European selections with a subtle Asian twist.
The gooey soft-boiled potato and melted mozzarella soup of the Potato Dutch Cheddar would make an appetising starter. Hanging Tender’s overfine grilled beef slices, sprinkled with kosher sea salt and black pepper is also an unequalled feat as a starter.
Steak is the standout at Porto. The grill-your-own Wagyu Hakata Steak, of which patrons can grill their own beef on top a hot stone, is a recommended activity on balmy evenings on the restaurant’s second floor balcony. Whereas Steak de Porto with its bountiful not-to-be-missed homemade potato wedges is an alternative for those looking for instant gratification.
But don’t misjudge Porto simply as a port for carnivores. Porto Black Cod is the popular choice for fish-based dish; it’s a Japanese-imported black cod, cooked a la Portuguese then coupled with creamy olive spinach and the soft baked baby potatoes. For an altogether truffle experience, opt for Fettuccine al Tartufo, which is soaked in a creamy truffle sauce along with Parmigiano Parmesan cheese.
There are plenty of pages you would like to bookmark as you thumb through the menu. Best come with three or more companions so one could sample as many sharing plate as possible. Drinks abound with varieties: flower teas arrive in dainty flowery cups (try their Elderly Flower Fruit Tea that comes with edible Spanish elderly flower petals), fresh fruit mocktails and their surprisingly light milkshake that comes in martini glass.
The ambience on the second floor gets intimate as the evening draws in – perfect for a romantic date with the loved ones. Though considerably far from the hubbub of J-Town, it pays to roam an unfamiliar landscape once in a while, especially when the landscape offers the best steaks in the neighbourhood.