Cicheti my Spaghetti
After agreeing to meet up with a friend in Covent Garden, I had decided we meet in Polpo. The much talked about Venetian establishment was one of those restaurants which a lot of people had said they had wanted to go to but hadn’t yet visited. This is the second Polpo to open after the original in Soho and, to my surprise, has been open since 2011.
I had my concerns; first you can’t book a table which leaves the possibility of waiting and staring enviously over seated diners. Second, the tapas style dishes, cicheti, which doesn’t appeal to the Joey’s of the world – Mylen just doesn’t share food.
My fears were quickly washed away with a well priced bottle of Montepulciano and a table which my friend and I had managed to get straight away. We had more than the recommended portion of two cicheti per person starting with the Fritto Misto, crisp and lightly battered seafood of squid, whitebait and prawns served with a lemon wedge which was light and refreshing. We followed with a creamy spinach and parmesan pizette with a soft egg; perfectly cooked (no horrible snotty bits). The service is quick and soon our dishes struggled to fit on the table. Rich and earthy chopped liver crostinis disappeared in a blink of an eye. We marched onto pork and beef meatballs with spaghetti and finished through to a triumphant end of pork belly and hazelnuts accompanied with brittle crackling and radicchio.
The menu isn’t so long it makes your head spin but there’s a dish to please every type of person. To my relief, the plates are big enough so there are at least five or six bites per person which eased the tension between me and my friend when it came down to the last pieces of food on each plate.
Polpo is a great addition to the Covent Garden eating scene which is overcooked with restaurants providing substandard pre-theatre menus and distinctly average restaurant chains. You can eat well here for around £30 a person and with dishes like duck, blood orange and fennel; prawn and artichoke linguine and Loch Duart salmon tartare all in one meal, I would say that’s pretty damn good value for money.