Polpo is humble and delicious
Polpo is a bacaro, which is a Venetian word used to describe a humble restaurant serving simple food alongside good, young local wines. I had chanced upon a favourable review about Polpo some time ago and had made a mental note to go and eat there next time I was in London. Unfortunately my mind got filled up with other things and I forgot all about it until I was given Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) for Christmas and decided that now was the time to go and eat there.
Polpo has three locations in London – Covent Garden, Soho and Smithfield. We ate lunch at the Smithfield location which is a short walk from Farringdon tube station. The decor was very rustic and simple with original exposed brickwork and soft lighting. There was a few people already inside when we arrived but it very quickly filled up which was a good sign for the Sunday after Christmas.
The staff were very courteous, polite and helpful, explaining that the restaurant served Cicheti, which are small dishes to share and are the equivalent of Venetian tapas. There were a couple of things we wanted to try which were not available due to the restaurant not having their full delivery over Christmas. This was a shame but it gave us another reason to return to try those other dishes.
We chose a selection of dishes to share, which came out gradually through the meal. First were two potato and parmesan crocchettes which were light and fluffy inside and just the right crispiness on the outside. Then came roasted grape, honey and goats cheese bruschetta which was creamy, sweet and salty all at the same time on crisp fresh bread and was simply delicious. We then had three lamb and pistachio meatballs accompanied by three chick pea, spinach and ricotta meatballs. These were served piping hot with a sweet tomato sauce covering them and again were delicious with the spices in each coming through perfectly. Then a dish from the specials board – squash and sage pizzette which is a very thin crispy 20 cm pizza which had a spread of squash puree and sage leaves. It was very simple with only the two main ingredients but it worked so well.
Having a very sweet tooth, I had to try a desert so we shared a ricotta crumble which was three pieces of a baked ricotta cake/crumble and, like the rest of the meal, was different and very tasty.
With drinks for the two of us, the meal came to about £40/£45 which I thought was a good deal for the quality and quantity of food we had eaten. The book itself gives you most of the recipes for the items found on the menu and I can also highly recommend it. I have attempted some of the recipes myself and they are all fairly easy for an average cook to make, and taste delicious.