Polpo is the bustling, new Venetian bacaro bar in the heart of Soho.
The Greedy Diva perched herself up at the bar and knew she was in for a good night when the lovely bacaro man recommended the Barbera from Piedmont, Greedy Diva's food and vino holiday nirvana. Wines come by the glass, carafe or bottle - half a litre arrived in a quirky, old school crockery jug, bringing an instant smile to the dial. And they serve Aperol. Greedy Diva and The Peanut Gallery settled in for the evening….
Dishes here come in smallish tapas sized portions. Loads of delicious sounding cichettis, crostinis, pizzettas, meat, fish and veggie options. And the desserts…. I’ll be upfront. We had 10 dishes. Let's get to specifics.
Lovely bacaro man had already sorted out a complimentary pizzetta bianco to share. Good start. Tiny, but crisp and delicious. The Greedy Diva wanted more.
We followed up with prosciutto, fig and mint crostinis and a cuttlefish in ink dish that was so rich and lip smackingly good the Greedy Diva checked over her shoulder as she momentarily considered licking the plate. Next was the pork belly, radiccio and hazelnuts - sweet and evocative of the meaty nocciola delights we recently scoffed in the valleys of Piedmont (more on that later). Roasted duck with black olives and green peppercorns in a rich tomato sauce divided us (thumbs up from Greedy Diva, Peanut was not impressed).
The polpetto were fabulous. Often a disappointment, the polpetto were ordered as an afterthought. The three big dollops of rich, meaty meatballs that arrived in a tomato sauce would soon become cherished memories.
A fennel, green bean and cobnut salad was refreshing, (mostly) crisp and delicious, if a little let down by the flaccid beans. Our potatoes with rosemary had been forgotten but eventually arrived looking a tad on the pale side, reminding us of the London winter to come. But looks can be deceiving…. Packed with flavour, crisp and fluffy all at once. Bring it on.
Desserts. What to choose, what to choose…. Eventually we settled on the ciambella with chocolate sauce (doughnutty-cakey texture which was right up Peanut’s alley) and honey and walnut semifreddo, which came in a cute chocolatey waffle cone – creamy, nutty, yum (not sweet enough for The Peanut Gallery, but coming from a man who eats sugar on toast for breakfast, make of this what you will).
So, we loved it. Great atmosphere, casual but fun, stylish but simple, helpful service and reasonably priced. All up, our bill came to £68. Crostinis fluctuate around the £1.50 - £2 mark, and other dishes range up to around £7. No photos this time but I’ll be back.
The Polpo name is already flirting wildly around the Soho streets and foodie blogs, so scramble for a seat while you can…
Polpo, 41 Beak Street, London, W1F 9SB