Portivo Lounge at Gloucester Quays Outlet is an informal food-led cafe/bar open all day, everyday, where families and friends can enjoy drinks or something to eat in a relaxed environment – with the menu spanning brunch, burgers and hot dogs, tapas, light bites and more.
SoGlos spent a cosy, candlelit Monday night at the ever-bustling Portivo Lounge at Gloucester Quays, leaving impressed by the quirky décor and drinks selection, but not so much the food.
After being inundated with requests to bring its quirky brand to Gloucestershire, The Loungers group opened Portivo Lounge at Gloucester Quays in July 2013, offering shoppers, leisure-seekers and local residents alike a trendy place to eat, drink and be merry at the waterside destination.
Now the real test of a truly great bar is not how full you find it on a Friday or Saturday night – although we’ve heard queues form round the block on weekends at Portivo – but how it fares on weekday evenings. And on the frosty Monday night the SoGlos team visited, we were pleased to see the majority of tables occupied.
From suited-and-booted business types taking advantage of the free wi-fi and families laden with shopping bags ending the day with a hearty burger, to couples sharing drinks over candlelight and regulars thumbing through the newspapers, the atmosphere was buzzing, so we hung our jackets up on the handy coat rack by the door and settled in to our very own cosy corner.
Whilst offering a home-from-home, informal atmosphere for drinkers and diners of all ages, the interior is somewhat more upmarket, with its sprawling two floors brimming with Art Deco and vintage features, including exposed brickwork; paintings; distressed wooden tables and benches strewn with comfy cushions; and mismatched mirrors, lampshades and furniture.
The trendy staff, clad in their own clothes – which might confuse some customers – were obviously busy behind the bar but nevertheless attentive, and we didn’t have to wait long to order a rarely-found pint of Estrella Damm and strawberry jam daiquiri, which they brought to the table within minutes.
Portivo Lounge describes itself as an ‘informal, neighbourhood food-led café/bar’ which I’d agree with to a certain extent. Families are well catered for with board games, high chairs and a children’s menu all provided, and drinkers almost certainly with a healthy and well-priced selection of coffees, juices, shakes, wines, spirits, craft beers and ciders, and quirky cocktail menu featuring everything from a cherry bakewell to a spiced winter elixir.
Plus, there’s special vegan and gluten-free menus, and some great food and drinks offers running throughout the week too, such as Breakfast Club and Tapas Tuesdays.
I would question the ‘food-led’ aspect of the venue’s offering, however. While the menu itself is great value and vast, spanning brunch classics, Paninis, salads, burgers, tapas and puds, it seems the term ‘you get what you pay for’ really does ring true here.
Considering himself to be quite the burger connoisseur, my partner decided on the Yummy Mondays deal of a Lounge burger and fries, and a banana split for just £9.25, while I plumped for three tapas and ciabatta for a very reasonable £8.75.
Sadly the mouth-watering promise of a juicy 8oz burger in a sourdough bun didn’t quite deliver, being slightly overdone and a little dry – screaming out for a more generous helping of tomato and dill pickle, not to mention a bigger dollop of the deliciously tangy red onion marmalade.
My trio of tapas, meanwhile, went down a little better, comprised of fluffy patatas topped with a tad too much smoked garlic and wasabi aioli; sticky-sweet, honey-glazed five-spice pork; and hot jalapeño infused mushrooms in a tomato pesto sauce, which despite being a little soggy, were too moreish to leave.
Portivo Lounge’s menu is definitely more pub grub than fine dining, with the prices being affordable and portions certainly hearty. And while it forms part of a nationwide chain of lounges, it feels like an independent, thanks to its Sunday quiz nights and homages to Gloucester’s RAF heritage adorning the walls.
We’ve no doubt Portivo Lounge will continue to go from strength to strength as the place to drink at Gloucester Quays, and with a little more attention to detail where the food is concerned, could contend with some of the centre’s most popular restaurants too.
By Shelly McCatty
Friday 29 November 2013
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