Feeling slightly left out we decided to try out Polpo because of all the recent hype surrounded this restaurant. Instead of the more popular Covent Garden or Soho branches we took the short walk from work to the Farringdon establishment.
Polpo is a Venetian restaurant which is quite specific and is also well known for its meatballs. Upon arrival there was a queue outside – you cannot book in advance – but the other diners that were waiting were in groups so were seated immediately.
The restaurant is small and quite rustically Italian in design, but we have to say after all of the hype we were a little under whelmed by the decor.
We were seated and our drinks orders were taken by a vacant waitress who seemed keen to move on to the next table and left us worrying if she would actually remember to process our order.
The sharing menu looked good and since we wanted to see what the different dishes they had to offer, we opted for the tapas style dishes.
We ordered a cicheti plate for starter. This consisted of aranchi (a fried rice ball), a smoked salmon, beetroot and horseradish, anchovy and liver crostini. I obviously had to ask what aranchi was as I had no clue – call me ignorant but it would be nice to have seen descriptions on the menu. Anyway, the salmon and beetroot were fabulous, fresh salmon was rolled with the beetroot and horseradish paste in between. The pate was a little strong for my taste buds and the aranchi were nice. A good start I’d say!
For main course we ordered Prosciutto, mozzarella & basil bruschetta, Mussels, clams & monk’s beard, lamb and mint meat balls, Fennel, almond & endive and octopus with borlotti beans. Phew that does sound a heck of a lot of food.
The mozzarella and brushetta were delicious however the mussels were tasteless, over cooked and had no real substance to make this dish filling (thank god we ordered plenty).
The fennel worked well with the nutty almonds and the sweet chicory. The meat balls were good; huge like cricket balls, juicy but was very forgettable which was a bit of a let down since this was their specialty dish.
We liked Polpo but think it is very over hyped and we would not go out of our way to visit again.
Maybe the Covent Garden and Soho establishments do have that wow factor but this one certainly doesn’t!