It has been a tough few months but good food is always a mood booster. Porta at the Park Hotel Clarke Quay could be the place you are looking for: It offers up some familiar dishes and new ones, like tasty plant-based ‘meat’. 

SINGAPORE (March 27): Plant-based meats have seen a huge growth in both demand and retail sales recently. When the plant-based meat producer Beyond Meat went public in May 2019, their shares grew almost to 150% more than their initial public debut. In fact, Swiss bank UBS expects the alternative meat market to grow by 28% a year to US$85 billion ($123.09 billion) in 2030. The popularity of plant-based proteins produced by companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat comes as no surprise as these alternative meats are said to generate up to 87% less greenhouse gases per burger. Finally, there is a way for meat-eaters to enjoy their favourite burgers and be socially-conscious in the process.

As meat alternatives gain popularity, restaurants here are quick to get on board. Porta at Park Hotel Clarke Quay has now teamed up with environmental social enterprise Green Monday to bring a specially crafted ‘green’ menu for diners. They have also refreshed their à la carte menu to include new creations, which draw inspiration from local favourites and a distinctly European flair. And, to top it all off, a new brunch menu will also be available from April 12 onwards.

The Green Monday menu includes 10 new dishes to suit the environmentally-conscious palate. This includes new vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, and plant-based meat or alternative dairy dishes. We had the chance to sample some of them recently, namely the Orecchiette Pasta ($24++), the Beyond Burger ($29++) and the Burratina ($22++).

The Orecchiette Pasta is made with housemade sauce of cream, milk, garlic, onion, bay leaf, with Beyond sausage, wild mushrooms and spinach to a healthy portion of pasta. Meanwhile, the Beyond Burger is a classic brioche burger bun with a Beyond meat patty, Daiya cheese, housemade ketchup and caramelised onion. Both were satisfyingly hearty, and personally I would highly recommend the pasta which hit the rights spots for me with the combination of savoury mushrooms, creamy sauce and spinach.

The Burratina is a simple yet pleasing starter of fresh burrata cheese (which is mozzarella with stracciatella and cream on the inside — this is a lovely soft cheese with great texture), topped with shio kombu (dried kelp boiled in soy sauce) and served with Roma tomatoes and basil pesto.

Next, we moved on to the new à la carte menu items. This time, Chef Alex Phan has stuck close to the classics: There is the Parma Ham salad ($16++) which is a mesclun salad with watermelon, parma ham, basil, balsamic vinegar, Thai lime aioli, lime juice and zest, giving it a nice, tart bite that is refreshing and piques the appetite for the rest of the meal.

We also sampled the Black Cod ($29++), which is a fillet of black cod coated in pistachio and puffed rice, served with spinach dashi stock and edible flowers. The cod is pan-seared skin down, covered with the pleasantly crunchy pistachio crust (a blend of young pistachio, deep-fried puffed wild rice and lemon zest), then finished off in the oven. I would easily say the cod was my favourite dish of the night: I loved the textural contrast between the soft flaky cod and the crunchy pistachio crust.

We also had a serving of Venus Clams ($24++), which is Capellini pasta served with clams, shio kombu, garlic, tomatoes, chilli padi, sakura ebi, and parsley. From the brunch menu, we sampled the Gourmet Pork Sausage Roll ($21++) — a premium pork sausage in a soft buttered bread roll topped with salsa and served with fries and salad. There are no surprises here: This sausage roll is an elevated hot dog but it’s definitely going to be a favourite at those lazy Sunday brunches.

For dessert, we had the Meyer Lemon Trifle ($12++) which is a Victorian sponge cake served with thyme whipped cream and housemade lemon curd. It was slightly too sour for my liking but it will surely find fans with those who enjoy the jaw-piercing sourness of fresh lemons.

A real highlight for me was the Kopi “O” ($12++), a local twist on a classic Italian tiramisu with dark chocolate coffee sponge, milk sauce, whipped cream, and espresso ice cream served in a traditional coffee mug and with butter and sugar toast. I loved the simplicity and the espresso ice cream was like a buzz of caffeinated goodness right to the ‘dessert stomach’.

Best of all, Porta is also offering some special lunch deals for the busy working crowd. From April 20 onwards, it will offer two or three-course set lunches from 12pm to 2.30pm on weekdays. The two-course set lunch of an appetiser and main, or main and dessert is priced at $18++ while the threecourse lunch of an appetiser, a main and a dessert is $22++. The food here is simple yet delicious — definitely the kind of thing you need to comfort you in these tough times.