Nestled in Summertown is Portabello restaurant, 'serving a range of British and Mediterranean-inspired dishes'. It seemed the perfect post-theatre lunch, particularly with the generous 25% discount for all attendees from The North Wall. The atmosphere of Portabello is warm and open, with upscale trappings. The restaurant even has blankets and outside heaters for these who wish to brave the weather.
One of the draws of this restaurant is its leaning towards being family friendly, something that is a must with a young child. On arrival it was noticeable that there were several families with young children in the restaurant, a sure sign that this was the right choice. We were, however, informed that there were no high chairs available. We chose to persevere and were shown to our table. Upon recommendation from a colleague, I chose the Portabello burger, as any burger named after the establishment is worth a try. My partner went for the fish and chips (though bemused our waiter with a request to change the mushy peas for a salad).
Once we had ordered food I took the opportunity to scout out the rest of the restaurant under the guise of taking our daughter to the toilet. It allowed me to confirm my suspicions that there was only one high chair and thus the restaurant was woefully under-resourced for young families. This may seem a small point to return to but it is vital for a restaurant like Portabello to have the facilities required to cater for all who come through its door. Certainly it is the least resourced restaurant I have been to since the birth of my daughter.
When our meals arrived Portabello showed its strength. The food is outstanding. My burger was cooked to just the right degree, and was perfectly matched with its topping. The fish was tender and fresh with a thin layer of batter, and was beautifully cooked. My partner proclaimed it the best fish she had had. Portabello's chips are also exceptional and I can't fault the food we had. Our meal really was exquisite.
The rest of the menu has many sumptuous meals on it and I'd be particularly eager to try their brunch menu on a second visit. Unfortunately our chosen dessert, a delicious-sounding dark chocolate cheesecake, was out of stock, so that gives another reason to go back. The great food Portabello serves is really in stark contrast to the lacklustre family facilities.
It is a shame that what I felt the need to judge Portabello on was not its food but how welcoming it was for a young family. I'd strongly recommend the restaurant for its menu, and for the quality and range of food on offer. And with its discount for theatre attendees, it is the perfect complement to a show at The North Wall. However it is sadly just not suitable to bring children who need high chairs, which feels like a misjudgement on Portabello's part. I would not return to Portabello until all of our party can be comfortably catered for.