Flavor Lives at the Portabello Market

I was in Pensacola, Florida this morning to attend a mediation conference.  Following the successful conclusion of the proceeding, the mediator asked if I felt like grabbing a bite to eat before heading back to Tallahassee. He said he knew a great place to grab a sandwich.  The thought of grabbing some good local food won out over my concerns about getting home late, and we headed down towards the waterfront towards Portabello Market.  The restaurant  is located inside the Pensacola Cultural Center near a beautiful square.  The space sits in an old courtyard that has been covered with a glass roof.  The walls are brick and the inside was dotted with 15 to 20 tables.  I really liked the space and it felt like something you would find in a city like Charleston or Savannah.

We took a set and the waitress immediately took our drink order.  This was a sign of things to come as the service during out lunch was outstanding.  I ordered sweet tea which tasted like it was made from a mix.  That would have been blasphemous but I noticed the large Luzianne tea maker behind the counter.  I attributed the off taste to a bad batch.  Later, when my glass was refilled it tasted as good sweet tea should, sweet but not too sweet and I wrote off the earlier hic-cup.

While we were looking over the menus the owner came over to say hello to the other attorney.  He said he was not used to seeing him in the restaurant as he usually provides him and his mediation clients lunch at the office.  The owner, a very friendly person, asked if I liked french dip sandwiches.  I told him I did and he replied that I needed to get the special because their gravy was out of this world.  I decided to take his word for it and placed my order.

My sandwich arrived on a nice white ceramic dish.  The sandwich consisted of large slices of roast beef that appeared to have been slow roasted and then quickly grilled on a hot top to give the edges some crunch.  It was topped with cheese and nestled on a fresh baguette.  Accompanying the sandwich was a side salad consisting of mixed greens with creamy ranch dressing. Everything was very fresh and presented in a careful way.

The sandwich was full of flavor.  The beef was well cooked and the cheese added a sharp bite.  The gravy also lived up to it billing as the star of the show.  It was beef based and was loaded with large pieces of mushrooms, onions and carrots.  After I had finished my sandwich I fished out the gravy infused morsels and probably would have drank down the remainder if I was in more familiar company.  Lunch was outstanding and I look forward to being back in Pensacola so I can visit Portabello Market again.

Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating:
Atmosphere: B+
Taste: A
Presentation: B+
Service: A
Cleanliness: B+
Price: $

Portabello Market on Urbanspoon

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