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When I dine out in London I like to find special venues that showcase this amazing city to its full potential. More than a meal, the restaurant should offer fantastic service, a welcoming atmosphere and, where possible, sweeping views of the city.
If you plan to visit London, book a table at Portrait the restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery. Perched high above Trafalgar Square, Portrait has a great menu, attentive service and some of the most spectacular and iconic views of the London skyline.
Iconic views of London
On our first visit to Portrait we were delighted to be ushered to a table right by the window so we were able to enjoy the amazing sunset over Nelson’s Column, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament as we sipped our prosecco. I almost expected to see Mary Poppins gliding over rooftops holding her umbrella.
Views of the iconic London skyline are one thing but the quality of food is equally important. The menu at Portrait is modern British and focuses on classic dishes.
A tale of two menus at Portrait restaurant
I opted for a seafood feast while my partner went traditional and ordered parfait and steak. My salmon starter was perfectly smoked pieces of thinly sliced fish paired well for texture and taste with crunchy toast and cucumber relish. Delicious as it was, unsurprisingly this dish was overshadowed by my lobster main course.
I had never ordered a full lobster for myself prior to this meal. The main reason was because I did not like the thought of all the mess associated with pulling the sea creature apart. However thanks to a combination of assistance from my husband and Portrait’s able waiting staff I was able to enjoy every last morsel of this meal. The lobster was served with a buttery tarragon sauce and was delicious.
My husband tried the duck and chicken liver parfait for his starter and enjoyed the silky smooth texture and subtle flavours. His hanger steak was cooked well but was not outstanding. He particularly enjoyed the thrice cooked chips which you will admit are hard to resist wherever you dine.
After all that indulgence you would think we’d have called it a night but we were tempted by the Eton Mess and Pannacotta with poached white pear. Both were excellent though the mess was a little too messy and not quite elegant.
We finished off our meal with a glass of Muscat Beaumes de Venise – one of our favourite wine varieties of the after dinner kind. If you haven’t tried the dessert wines from this French region, I encourage you to treat yourself. They are so stickily good and have a subtle aroma of Turkish delight.
Throughout the meal the service was casual and efficient which is the style we prefer. Some guidance from the maitre’d during the lobster extraction indicated there were true professionals in charge. I learnt some new techniques for eating seafood and am no longer intimidated by the process of removing the flesh from crustaceans.
Why dine at Portrait Restaurant
We had a great time. Portrait is the perfect restaurant to celebrate a trip to London. It not only has a wonderful view of the London skyline but is smart without being pretentious. The menu is varied and good value and the service is excellent.
Perfect for visitors to London
Since this initial visit we have taken several visitors from abroad to the restaurant. They are always impressed with the spectacular views across London as well as the delicious menu.
Portrait restaurant is open from breakfast to supper also so you can catch a glimpse of those amazing views at any time of day. If you have time I recommend starting your night with a visit to the National Portrait Gallery – open until 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays. There are always interesting exhibitions on throughout the year but I particularly enjoy the Tudor section of the permanent collection.
✪ Learn all about how you can snaffle that last minute reservation (and other great London apps) on my post – Top 5 apps to download for your trip to London.
✪ If you like art and are not sure which galleries to visit – here are my pick of the best 11 London galleries
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