London: Polpo Covent Garden
Restaurant Review: Plopo (Covent Garden) London
Inspired by the Italian bacaro (a humble Venetian restaurant serving simple food and good, young local wines), Polpo is not just a place to go for lunch: it is a place where you would go out for your regular lunch break, and then call the office with a lame excuse, invite a few friends and spend the rest of your afternoon indulging yourself in a “dolce far niente” state of mind.
From the moment you enter through their rustic green door, you just know that something good it is about to happen: a warm and friendly welcome, a very informal decor and an un-pretentious setting of old chairs and tables are making you feel relaxed and welcomed.
The menu is short and simple, featuring cicheti, pizzette and a few traditional italian breads to start with, a good selection of meatballs and salads along with some simple yet very inspiring fish and meat dishes, folowed by a lovely list of italian desserts.
A generous carrafe of a light red wine and a few pieces of golden, crispy then melt-in-your-mouth arancini, followed by some potato croquettes and mini-caprese skewers are set to prepare us to for a true italian feast. The following selection of sea-food fritti misti and pizzette (of wihch I am not sure yet if the cheese, onion and thyme or the spinach, garlic and egg is my favourite, so I shall need to taste them again) are opening our apetites with their thin, crispy base and perfectly ballanced choice of ingredients. From this moment on you know that you are in for a real treat and your taste buds are getting filled with excitement, so all you need to do is pour yourself another glass of wine and lay back with a smile on your face, as the polpetti (italian for meatballs) are starting to come. Small bowls with big, bold balls of beef & pork, veal & porcini and chickpea & ricotta, all bathed in rich, creamy tomato sauce are starting to invade the table, along with fresh green salads and golden roasted potatoes. And as if this wasn’t enough already, a nice bowl of panzanella, made with heritage tomatoes and rich focaccia bread perfumed with extravirgin olive oil and fresh basil, is coming along to join the feast! (If you haven’t already call your office to take the rest of your day off, now would be a good moment to do it!). The vegetarian polpetti were highly appreciated, and although I did not tried the meat-based ones they were dissapearing off the plates just as fast. The green salads of zucchini, rocket & Parmesan and fennel, almond and curly endive were fresh and crispy and dressed to perfection and the roasted rosemary potatoes were heavenly: crunchy on the outside, soft and almost creamy on the inside – they could have been a dish on their own, if you asked me! At the dessert time, the Tiramisu was nothing else than a celebration of all things Italian: rich, creamy and packed with flavours – a hint of coffee, a good touch of Marsala, a lovely sweet Mascarpone layered between perfectly softened lady-fingers and covered with a generous cocoa dusting – what a treat!
The lunch at Polpo Covent Garden was the type of lunch that shouts out for an espresso followed by a long break in which to do nothing than contemplate on the beauty of life. And by the time you get out, you would expect to feel the smell of the Venetian canals, and wait for a gondola to pick you up, while your heart is already singing “O Sole Mio!”.
Polpo Covent Garden is the first of the three Polpo restaurants opened by the Venice afficionado Chef Russell Norman. All three restaurants are operating a no-booking policy for dinner-time, so be prepared to queue as they are really popular.
Polpo Covent Garden
6 Maiden Lane, London, WC2E 7NA
020 7836 8448
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