Porta is a tapas bar in the grey area between idea and reality. It’s not open yet. We (Ben and Joe, owners of restaurant Joseph Benjamin next door) had an idea, our family (extremely ‘handy’ builder-electrician-plumber-dad and kitchen-designer-mum!) and brilliant staff are helping us make it happen.
Our aim at Porta is to keep things really simple. A relaxed, totally informal environment inspired by the tiniest independent cafés, bars and tapas bars of Barcelona, Paris and London.
Cured meats and cheeses form the backbone of a menu that is a collection of plates to be enjoyed singularly with a glass of wine or combined to create something more substantial. Call it tapas, call it bar snacks, call it dinner – no rules, just tasty food to accompany good beer, wine and conversation.
Seating is informal – lots of bar stools and casual tables. No need to book, just come along and grab a space – we’ll be open seven nights-a-week from 5pm.
Porta is located under Chester’s Northgate Bridge on the city walls – the site of the original Roman fortress and its north gate ‘Porta Decumana’.
This unit is where we originally opened our little restaurant in 2006 before we moved in to larger premises next door and as such is a bit of an emotional return to the beginning. This is true in ethos as much as location.
While Joseph Benjamin restaurant goes from strength to strength and continues to absorb our blood, sweat and tears, Porta is probably where you’ll find us recovering!
Simply put, it’s the kind of place we want to relax in when we’re not working – unpretentious and comfortable with good music, beer, wine and food.
The food itself is broadly European with a lean toward the Iberian – tapas, without being a Spanish theme restaurant. Classics like jamon, croquetas and padron peppers sit alongside dishes sourced or inspired by other European cuisines (including our own!).
The bar offering is simple too. Six wines – 2 white, 2 red, a rosé and a sparkling – will change regularly. We’ve used all of our wine-tasting/buying skills to find great value and interesting wines – these are likely to be less mainstream, made from more unusual and un-heard-of grape varieties, but offer exceptional quality and value if you know where to look. Portugal, Spain and Italy are our starting points…
A cold ‘half’ of quality lager is not to be knocked either (Estrella Damm in this case) and a small selection of bottled beers – local and European, with the odd American craft beer thrown in for good measure gives plenty of options.
Simple as that. All we need to do now is do it!
We’ll be updating this site as we go along through to opening. The date we’re trying not to shout too loudly about is 18th November. We should be open by then… but watch this space!
Please do have a look at the blog-style page under ‘Latest News’.
You can also follow me on twitter @joseph_benjamin and @portatapas
Thanks. Ben (& Joe – not playing with websites, working hard in the kitchen!)