Review of 'Polpo'

I am a bit ashamed. I only just was made aware of the existence of Polpo when it recently opened in Notting Hill but, to my surprise, there are many locations throughout London including this one near Covent Garden which I am told has been around for five years! I have no idea how I could have missed it familiar as I like to think I am of the area…Of course, I am also familiar with the “Polpo” cookbook with it's iconic octopus on the cover that I have spotted in book stores over the years.

Polpo is a bit of an odd duck serving what can best be described as “Venetian (Italian) Tapas” (!) despite, of course, tapas being Spanish. The most expensive item on the menu is £10 with every dish being small and suitable for sharing. I visited on a Wednesday night - early - which turned out to be a good idea as it got packed very early (they do not taken reservations in the evening except for larger groups) and, when we left, the queue was an hour long.

The interior is quite basic and noisy. We were shown to a table for six people (despite there being only three of us) with fixed bar stools all around. It took a while for us to figure out what we wanted (the staff was not helpful with recommendations - simply explaining what type of food it was and showing us the different areas of it). We decided to have a dish from every section to share.

From the “Chicheti” (starters) section we chose the “Chicheti plate” (£9) which consisted of a single item from all of the starters - Crab arancini (nice), potato and parmassan crocchette (good but bland), chopped chicken liver crostini (delicious), fried stuff olives (very, very salty and stuffed with a strong cheese - not my taste), and spicy 'nduja and ricotta crostini (but, again, not my taste).

From the “Pizzette” section we chose the “Rustego, chestnut mushroom and ricotta” (£8) that was quite nice, served on a thin crispy crust. From the “Meatballs” section we chose “Meatballs alla Vendova” (£7), meatballs with a cheesy crispy coating on the outside that I can't say I really liked all that much - Too strong a flavour for me. I would have preferred the “Venison and Beef” (£7) instead but I was not eating for myself…From “Fish” we picked “Prawn risotto, samphire” (£8 - “samphire” is a type of seaweed) - Very nice but quite fishy though I have to say the risotto was a bit too firm for me (I prefer it more liquid). From the “Meat” section we had my selection “Pork belly, radicchio and hazelnuts” (£9) that was good but a bit dry - It seemed to be slightly overcooked but it was tasty. Finally, from the “Breads” menu we had the “Goat cheese, roasted grape and walnut bruschetta” (£7) which was the surprise here particularly with the honey drizzled over the top really cutting through the sharpness of the cheese. The bread was wonderfully crunchy. Very tasty indeed.

Each dish was between 2-3 portions so it sometimes made splitting a bit tricky but we managed.

At this point, we were pretty much stuffed particularly with the 2-3 drinks we each had as well (I had a nice non-alcoholic elder-flower, ginger beer and lemonade drink that was quite tasty but very small serving for the £2.50 they wanted).

The service we were not all that impressed with but it was serviceable. Our food came relatively promptly.

All in all, very good and we will be back to make our way through the myriad options on the menu and, perhaps this time, even have a pudding! Sometimes the flavours were a bit bland and other times they were a bit strong but this is the joy of having a number of smaller dishes with a few people - Don't like it? Someone else will. Go onto something else…

Rating:

Review Date: 2015-03-18


Cuisine: Italian

Address: 6 Maiden Lane London WC2E 7NA ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Covent Garden

Location: London (England) - Covent Garden

Map:

 

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Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7836 8448

URL: http://www.polpo.co.uk/