Polpo, and the other restaurants in the family of Russel Norman (Spuntino, Polpetto and the now newly opened da Polpo) have long been the talk of the town, and finally came the day for me to delve into this buzz.
The funky 'diner' style of the long restaurant, with its wooden floors and tables, exposed brickwork and a low, green terracotta tiled ceiling gives this "Venetian wine bar" a cozy feel.
The menu, which doubles as a rustic place mat, is split into sections of Cicheti (small dishes), breads, fish, meat, cheese, vegetables and desserts.
Being quite hungry, and knowing that dishes are made for sharing, we went for a selection from each section (we were told that Cicheti were literally bite size, and that they definitely were, each ranging from £1-3)
|Arancini, Artichoke & Prrosciutto, Potato & Parmesan crocchetta|
I could definitely have gone with more Arancini balls, they were divine. Perfectly crunchy coating, well seasoned, and cheesy risotto goodness was spot on. Equally good was the potato and parmesan crocchetta. The artichoke and prosciutto was understated. Good quality meat, but definitely no surprises with the flavours.
|Broad beans, mint & ricotta bruschetta (£5.60)|
|Braised lamb, farro & basil (£7.40)|
|Prawn & Monk's beard risotto (£7.10)|
|Scallops, pancetta & peas (£7)|
|Cuttlefish & Ink gnocchi, gremolata (£7)|
Having shared all the above dishes between three, we then ordered one more serving of the Cicheti each. I could have eaten more, but we decided to start on the desserts.
|Flourless orange & almond cake, mascarpone (£5.70)|
The service was good, and our waiter was helpful and knew the menu well. Having participated in the two of the three restaurant openings within the family, he was experienced. The couple on the table next to us (tables are quite close together adding to the buzzy, relaxed atmosphere) found the service to be disorganised, as their empty plates were not cleared on a timely basis to allow space for new dishes. Without being prompted, our waiter apologised for the service as we were paying the bill, as he informed us they were slightly understaffed this lunch time.
Overall I enjoyed Polpo and would like to come back to sample the rest of the menu. There appeared to be an element of "smart ordering" going on around us, where diners ordered dishes which visibly complimented each other (i.e. not scallops and lamb in one sitting like we did). Something to keep in mind.
I did expect more of the dishes to be 'spot on' given the hype around Polpo, but in general this was the perfect Sunday afternoon.
Russel Norman now has a book!