There’s the parilla (Argentinian barbeque) complete with a trio of sizzling, whole pigs. Next to it, a charcoal asado (South American barbeque) covered in sausages, steak and even more smoke. Far away from the flames there’s a wine stack with labels from Chile, Argentina and Spain. Porteño is back.

Elvis Abrahanowicz, Ben Milgate and Joe Valore’s cult South American-inspired restaurant has reopened in the old MoVida space on Holt Street, Surry Hills (the Cleveland Street site is now a dedicated functions and events space). “We've stripped it all out. It's completely different to what it was before,” says Abrahanowicz. The new design makes the most of the glass-walled building. The floor has been tiled, the paint lightened and the walls speckled with South American movie posters and old football iconography.

The food has also changed a bit; not so much stylistically, but in scope. “If you do something for over six years and you come to a new space, of course you want to do something better, or things differently,” says Milgate. The South American-style flame-grilled and charcoal-roasted meats are here, but are served slightly differently. “The dishes are a bit more composed. Before it was a lot of meats and ordering lots of different sides, but here we've got meats with sides and sauce as well.” Milgate describes the chuleta, a dry-aged rib eye with an ox-heart-tomato salad and a hunk of wood-fired baguette soaked in the steak’s juices.

He and Abrahanowicz are also excited about how their new tool, a custom-built, wood-fired oven, is upping their vegetable game. “We're doing a lot of veg prep during the day in there. Roast peppers and leeks. During the night we're roasting fish, chicken, making a chickpea pancake in there. We're also roasting queso fresco (mild, white cheese),” says Milgate.

Fans of the Cleveland Street restaurant will notice the new menu is a lot longer. Most noticeably Joe Valore’s wine list and the dessert menu, which now has wood-fired fruit hollowed and stuffed with yoghurt sorbet and rosemary syrup, and postre balcare, a triple-layered sponge cake with chestnuts, dulche de luche and a crème caramel-like topping. The 300-strong wine list now covers large swathes of Italy and Australia along with the South American picks he was pouring at Cleveland Street.

Porteño
50 Holt Street, Surry Hills
(02) 8399 1440

Hours:
Tue to Sat 6pm–11pm
porteno.com.au