Talking tapas with Ben Wright
Ben Wright is the co-founder of Porta, a place for all those who love tapas. Focussing on simple, authentic ingredients to give fresh and vibrant Spanish tastes, Porta has a buzzing atmosphere that’ll have you fooled that you’re in the calles of Spain.
How did you get into the restaurant industry?
Like many in the industry, a Saturday job as a 14-year-old washing-up in a golf club near my parents’ house. That role evolved into kitchen work, cheffing (mainly bacon butties and burgers) and then to bar work – alongside the sixth form, when I turned 18. I immediately fell in love with the industry – the fun and the camaraderie but also the hard graft, responsibility and being treated as an adult.
Tell us about the ethos behind Porta…
Simplicity and authenticity. It’s all about the ethos of a good traditional tapas bar – relaxed, informal and to an extent utilitarian. Good ingredients, good recipes, prepared with care and served without pretensions. Flavour not faff. We want Porta to be somewhere to have fun, a few drinks and enjoy yourself. We keep saying “we’re just a tapas bar”, it’s dead simple.
What is Porta best known for?
Hopefully great examples of classics tapas dishes served by nice people in a cool environment!
Which is your favourite dish on the menu?
A regular special is ‘Pulpo a la Gallega’ – a super simple dish of octopus, with potatoes, olive oil and paprika; all served at warm, kinda-room-temperature. Hands down it’s my death-row/desert island dish.
What’s your biggest achievement in 2018?
Opening Porta Salford was a big deal – the biggest project we’ve undertaken. The building was a huge old bank that we just fell in love with when we saw it back in late 2017. It has character and history in spades, and that’s what we always look for – glass boxes are just not our thing. The extent of the work required to bring it to life was daunting – not to mention expensive – but so worth it; it’s so satisfying to see it busy and buzzing, even in January!
What’s coming up for 2019?
I’d love to give you a serious business-focussed answer, but my wife Lorraine is pregnant with our first child. Due in April, this could be the biggest challenge yet!
Porta has tapas restaurants in Chester, Altrincham and Salford.