On Tuesday evening, I met up with my oldest and best friend, Courtney, at Portobello Cafe on Staten Island’s Hylan Boulevard. Courtney and I grew up across the street from each other, and after over 26 years of friendship and building very different lives and schedules, we still love to find time for “date nights” to catch up, just the two of us.
I am so excited and honored to be Courtney’s Maid of Honor in her upcoming June wedding, so you can imagine we’d have lots to talk about after a few months of not seeing each other. We picked Portobello Cafe, a place I’ve been to several times with Justin – it’s not far from our home. Courtney had never been, and I’d had great experiences there in the past, so I was excited to share a meal there with her. Portobello Cafe has a buy one get one free weekday special for their entrees: a great deal, but it’s cash only, so be prepared!
We went on a Tuesday night and the place was nearly completely packed at 7:30. They have a decently big dining room, as well as a separate smaller room they use for either dining or private parties. Based on my previous experiences at Portobello Cafe, I fully expected to give a four star (great food, great service, and some outstanding components) Baconboozer rating. However, sadly, Tuesday’s meal did not compare to my memories, and my objective rating of this single experience was a three star (solidly good) Baconboozer rating. Potential for better is absolutely and definitely there, though.
So, they start you out with bread and roasted garlic:
I love this – anything involving salt and garlic is good in my book – but the bread could have really been warmed to help melt the butter.
Next, I ordered the escargot appetizer – something I’ve had and loved in the past.
This appetizer is a very generous portion compared to the six or eight escargots you usually get in an order. Food at Portobello Cafe is definitely on the saltier side, and this dish is no exception; it’s a matter of preference, but that’s something I really do like here. Out of the entire meal, this dish was my favorite. Save some of your (cold) bread for dipping here – the sauce is so creamy and buttery and delicious I was practically drinking it.
Next, came the entrees. Courtney went with the Chilean sea bass:
And I went with the filet mignon:
Courtney enjoyed her dish. I stole a taste and it was cooked well and the sauce was for sure yummy. The asparagus display was a little random and odd, but all in all a solid good dish.
I asked for my filet mignon medium rare and found it a bit overcooked. When I think filet mignon, I think “cuts like butter,” and this was, sadly, not the case here. The side, a cheddar mashed potato, was excellent. The creamed spinach poured on top of the steak definitely did give it an excellent flavor, I was just disappointed by the cut and execution of the meat.
The dessert menu, like the main menu, is extensive and a bit overwhelming. So instead of stressing out over making a decision, Courtney and I went with the special the waiter described to us:
This was an apple cinnamon kind of flattened donut/tart thing – it was a tad sugary, but paired perfectly with a homemade gelato – very, very good.
So, all in all: service at Portobello Cafe on Tuesday (and every time I’ve gone) was outstanding. The hostess was warm and friendly, checking in often but without being annoying. The waiter was helpful, and quick to answer questions or meet requests. Water glasses were never allowed to empty, and food was brought out at a steady pace: not rushed but not slow. I was driving, so despite my Baconboozer title, I will never drink and drive. And I a firm believer that wine or a cocktail always makes a meal better, so this probably also played a role in my experience, too. Nothing that we ate was bad. Food was either good or very good, but not very good enough to warrant a four star rating, this time. Serving sizes are very generous – I had a full dinner the following night leftover. If you’re prepared with cash for the BOGO weekday special, the bang for your buck is exceptional. The place was bustling for a week night; it was a nice ambiance to be a part of. Portobello Cafe is a great local spot that I would definitely recommend.