It’s been a long and unwelcome hiatus for chefs and owners of Porteño, Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate. Their much-lauded Argentinean grill house fell victim to major structural damage in early January when a fluke fire ignited in the flue above their signature barbeque pit.
The Porteño team is now ready to put it behind them. Having finished renovations, the restaurant is re-opening for service today, and is now equipped with a new custom designed charcoal Parilla grill.
Under an entirely new roof, Porteño has been restored in all its Argentinian-meets-rockabilly glory. Lost is the exceptional cut glass wall feature behind the bar, but the exquisite gold pressed metal beams of the upstairs ceilings have been replaced. Their water-damaged awards have been rehung, a mark of their misfortune and a testament to the resilient Porteño spirit.
“We’re just excited to be back and cooking again,” sayd Milgate, and the enthusiasm in his voice is evident.
The driven duo haven’t been relaxing during the break. During the eight-week repair period they launched Popteño, a pop up restaurant in Rushcutter’s Bay, and have been cruising Sydney in their food truck, a decked out 1950’s Chevy fitted with a mobile kitchen, inclusive of a grill and smoker. The result was Argentinean bistro-inspired street food, minus the Parilla and whole animals.
The chefs are being tight-lipped about specific changes but they’ve been experimenting in the kitchen and admit to the addition of some pasta dishes to the existing menu.
What surprises do they have in store for their grand reopening?
“Just the same old classic dishes,” says Milgate.
Why fix what isn’t broken?