OLD bank buildings are such solid presences sometimes it’s hard to lose key components of their previous existence. In Manchester from Flok to Jamie’s Italian there are safes and bank vaults it was easier to leave lying. Salford’s glorious new tapas space Porta has solved the problem of what to with their basement lock-up by storing their wine there.
At the launch Taste of Manchester tried to sweet talk general manager Marta Terrón that the key would be safe in our custody but the one time Barcelona lawyer would have none of it.
The rest of the conversion is a triumph for Porta’s sibling co-founders Joe and Ben Wright (above). The former Midland Bank building, owned by Salford City Council, has been sympathetically renovated into a welcoming, intimate space, accentuating the original arched windows and parquet flooring. A wooden staircase leads up to a new mezzanine level overlooking the main floor, offering a more intimate dining experience.
Dark olive green decor, reclaimed wooden furniture, vintage Spanish prints and photography from the brothers' travels echoes the intimate, welcoming atmosphere of their Altrincham restaurant on Greenwood Street – shortlisted for Best Casual Restaurant and Out of Town Venue of the Year in the 2018 Manchester Food and Drink Awards.
Similar in size to Altrincham, the 65-cover Porta Salford also includes a bar area, where guests can enjoy a drink while awaiting a table, owing to the relaxed ‘no bookings’ policy.
The first Porta opened in Chester in 2012, next door to the Wrights’ renowned bistro, Joseph Benjamin, and was inspired by the buzz and informality of traditional Spanish tapas bars in Barcelona and Madrid. A second site followed in Altrincham in 2016, which was met with equal acclaim.
Much like the Altrincham and Chester sites, the menus include an array of tapas classics, including jamon and patatas bravas but also variations such as slow-roasted ox cheek with pickled walnuts and purple sprouting broccoli with Romesco sauce. Drinks include a rotating list of specially imported Spanish wines, as well as a selection of cava, sherry and vermouth, Estrella Galicia beer and local ales from Track.
Ben Wright, told us: “After months of hard work and preparation, we couldn’t be more excited to launch Porta Salford. We had an amazing reception on the opening night and it’s fantastic to see so much enthusiasm and support from the local community.
“The idea of Porta is to embrace the true concept of tapas – it’s a versatile, social experience that differs from having a more formal, sit-down meal at a restaurant. Whether you want to enjoy a few small plates over a beer or you’re catching up with friends with a bottle of wine, that’s what Porta is all about.
"Nothing's very fancy or expensive, starting at under £3 a glass and maxing out at about £5 a glass. We're aiming for fun, enjoyable, drinkable and good value - we're not trying to be pretentious."
Porta Salford, Bexley Square, Chapel Street, Salford, M3 6BY. Open all day seven days a week.