Photography by Chris Osburn
Undoubtedly, the atmosphere, warmth and buzz are the best things going for this northern Italian newcomer. Indeed, it's wonderful to see cicchetti - Venice's answer to the ever growing roster of world "tapas" - making an appearance in this low key Soho setting and being served by such friendly and competent staff. At £20 a head for a sufficient number of plates, desserts and a couple of beers, Polpo's a good spot to keep in mind for casual outings with friends who like to share bites.
However, it should be noted that the preparation of Polpo's actual dishes is rather hit or miss. The arancini, made with rice, peas and mozzarella are nice while their croquette cousins are a bit bland, but the batter for both is excellent. The mackerel on polenta - tasteless and greasy. The fritto misto - avoid; it's surprisingly devoid of flavour, limp and (on our visit anyway) seems to have been fried well before being served. The cuttlefish with ink gremolata is unusual and tasty as is the pizzetta bianca. The pork belly with hazel nuts and radicchio is attractively presented and adequately flavourful.
Unlike the savouries, all desserts are very good. The dense and creamy hot chocolate is perfect for a nippy evening. The nut and honey semifreddo (ice cream cone served in a glass) is simply scrumptious. Same goes for the flourless orange and almond cake.
Polpo is located at 41 Beak Street, W1F 9SB and worthy of your consideration. Choose each cichetto wisely and a satisfactory dining experience most certainly may be had. Visit this bacaro online at www.polpo.co.uk.
Written by Chris Osburn and Emiana