Saturday, August 07, 2010

POLPO...

It took me almost a year to get round to trying it, but I liked Polpo.

It's supposed to be a Venetian bacaro (sort of like a Tapas bar) but it looks exactly like it's in Brooklyn. But it's in Soho. They have those funny half curtain things, so with that meaning you can't see outside, the interior of exposed brick, tin ceiling and low light and the American girl whose grasp of volume and tone moderation leaves you a bit deaf in one ear, you really could pretend you were in Brooklyn.
I suppose the idea of a Venetian bacaro in Soho could seem really gimmicky, but somehow it's not; even though the outside is painted like a Venetian building with the number painted on and it's decked out to look like a traditional bacaro. Somehow it avoids looking or feeling like a theme restaurant or like it's trying to be anything other than what it is.

It was so packed at 6.30pm that there was literally no room to move, but no one seemed to mind. After a couple of spritzes (so glad the Aperol spritz is taking off in London - or maybe it's just that I keep seeking out places that serve it) we ended up eating at the bar, which got noisier and noisier until I could stand the glass shattering vowels of the girl who was actually standing about 3 metres away from us no more.

We had some cicheti: anchovy and chickpea crostini, rocket and walnut crostini, really good arancini, then a plate of mackerel tartare with horseradish (a bit too subtle) and sausage with borlotti beans. I had a glass of prosecco and my friend had a 1/4 of red which I helped her drink (the wines and even the mineral water are sourced from northern Italy), then we shared a delicious flourless orange cake with mascarpone and each had a glass of amaretto (one ice cube). Bearing in mind we each had a spritz before eating, it was quite stunning that the bill only came to £25 each. I'm more used to going somewhere in London with a friend, sharing a portion of chips and mayonnaise, having one glass of wine, then the bill coming to about £45. It was amazing not to endure the end of evening feeling that you can't really afford to go out, ever, or eat anything and you've just been completely ripped off by someone who paid roughly 23p for the potatoes they just fried and served you in a little aluminium pot with pretend newspaper wrapped round it. Because we ate early - or we wouldn't have got a table - we were also able to get home on public transport instead of getting a £30 taxi for the 15 minute drive home. Double whoo.

So it was good, I can't wait to go there again. They don't take bookings but it wasn't too bad getting seated, even on a Friday night and the service was friendly and helpful. I'd like to make it to a real table next time, if only because at the bar you're dining in the thick of a heaving crowd. It worked well this time though, because at the bar you get to see what other people ordered and file it away for next time. Ah, next time...

10 comments:

Luci Ana said...

Beautiful!

ephemerette said...

Yay you finally made it! I've only had a couple of long lunches there, so not experienced it completely heaving but actually I prefer to eat at the bar in the thick of it, plus the staff are so friendly. They're opening up another place called Polpette soon above the French House - looking forward to trying it out.

Anonymous said...

I really like the fact that there are only just a few furniture/d├ęcor elements that you can actually find in a real Venetian bacaro (namely chairs, window curtains and lamps on walls), if they had tried to copy one from a to z it would have probably looked a bit silly. And love that London is drinking spritz nowadays!
xxx
Mia

Rose said...

it's cool isn't it- I'm thinking of birthdaying there but don't know how that would work with the no booking. You know they're opening another place above the French House soon?

Anonymous said...

Hi Rose,

Polpo has a private dining room downstairs, which seats 25 people. Perfect for a birthday party!

Claire * Lola Is Beauty said...

I love the French House too - maybe we should have an LIB party at Polpette when it opens...

Claire * Lola Is Beauty said...

Hang on, above the French House as in upstairs at the French House, making it French/Venetian/English/Brooklyn or totally separate from the French House but above it?!

Claire * Lola Is Beauty said...

Polpetto! Now I see...

Scuse self comment spamming...

mimi sioux said...

just found your page... think you write beautifully. i like the way you look at things, life..

Emma said...

great article, so goo to know what you were eating and how much you payed.
keep on doing more like these