Another don’t! I must say, I’ve had quite a few these days. I’m hoping my luck changes this weekend when I have my sister in town for a jam-packed five days of activities. For now, let me help spare you from picking the wrong bistro to spend your precious time and hard-earned money.
The Portobello House calls itself a “Boutique Hotel.” I think that term is used wayyyy too loosely and pretty much describes any space that is small and has some eclectic decor. Since I have never stayed at Portobello House or seen any of the hotel rooms, this review is solely for the ground floor bar and restaurant that wraps around the front of the building. Located right on the corner of Ladbroke Grove, in Notting Hill, Portobello House has the quaint and colorful exterior that you would expect in such a darling neighborhood. The inside, however, is anything but. After I spent some time in the restaurant, I was reminded of something a girl I knew once said. I thought she lived by the church near Portobello House, but she corrected me by stating “No, no. I live on the posh end of Ladbroke Grove.” I didn’t care for the comment (or even her after that attitude), but really, after spending a lot of time on the north side, you realize there is definitely a posh end.
Portobello House’s clientele can be described as a hot mess. The men and women that frequent the place seem to be wasted. The men are shouting at their football games and chain-smoking out front. The women are doing the same, while trying to adjust their too tight skirts while navigating through the place on impractical heels. Someone referred to the place as “chavy.” Since this word is still new to me and my American diction, I don’t know if it is or isn’t, but I would say that person usually knows what they’re talking about.
The establishment clearly enjoys the patrons it caters to, because they’re not doing themselves any favors. The place is decorated like the “boutique hotels” you would find up north, in a place like Derby, not in Notting Hill. There are neon lights, champagne bottles on display, and ornate chandeliers. Someone thought those things made a statement when put together, and then decided to take it all even further with menu chalkboards, black and white movies playing from a projector, and shabby chic wallpaper. It is design overload, meant to wow the uncultured guest where a multitude of trends must equal good taste.
Now for something positive. The food is tasty. The menu has something for everyone because (like the decor) it’s kind of all over the place. But, that’s okay. Some days I want spaghetti, others chicken satay, mac n’ cheese, nachos, or a cheese board. You just never know. My husband, on the other hand, who is forever paralyzed by choice, hates it. I usually opt for the mixed Tapas & Bruchetta Board they offer to mix in a little bit of everything when sharing with a friend. They have an extremely powerful Gorgonzola Bruschetta which really is amazing. They’re all guilty pleasure snacks, so don’t go if you’re on a diet or vegan that day.
If you’re thinking at this point, it sounds like she’s been there more than once, you’re right. It took some time for me to categorize this one. My last visit sealed Portobello House’s fate after some poor, slow service and a plethora of rude and loud customers. Their Happy Hour specials and tasty apps are not good enough to keep coming back. And for that, they’re a don’t! Do not be tempted by their smart and pretty website, FYI, the place must just be photogenic. That’s all.
225 Ladbroke Grove
London W10 6HQ