Thursday, 27 October 2011

Polpo - A Possibility

Following my love affair with Spuntino, I thought it’s only fair that the sister restaurants get the same attention. With a full house plus a 30-min queue at 3pm on a Saturday, I sort of knew Polpo was going to be good.

The intentionally grungy dining room bore much resemblance to the series: scratched tiles, yellowy dim lights, and rustic wooden tables. As one would expect, the menu was printed on paper tablemats in that typewriter font and drinks list on a A5 clip board.

MGM (Elderflower, ginger beer, lemon) & Mock Sgroppino (San Bitter Dry, lemon sorbet)

Spinach, Parmesan & soft egg Pizzetta
The Polpo franchise does wonders with eggs. The thin mini pizza was soft with a crispy edge, loaded with spinach and cheese. The absolute jewel on the crown is obviously the lustrous viscous yolk… A simple pizza stunningly made. Mister said this beats the truffle egg toast; I disagreed. Strongly.

Mackerel Tartare with Horseradish & Carta di Musica
My opinion is biased, I knew even as I was ordering it. I still have Sketch’s version of mackerel tartare engraved and etched in my tastebud memories that no other interpretation can replace. Downright unfair, yes. I was hoping for tremendous fishiness paired with powerful bisque (though it says Horseradish on the menu) but this turned out to be much milder, toned down with crunchy cucumber cubes and onions. I don’t know, I just wasn’t mad about the combination.

Cuttlefish & Ink Risotto, gremolata
The inky calamari was great at Spuntino; this was even better. It was better in the way that al-dente rice is always better than chickpeas. Flavours were intense; cuttlefish pieces were plentiful and full of bounce; the bright orange oil added a subtle distinctive fragrance.

Pork Cotoletta with braised baby gems
This was exactly like the Austrian Schnitzel, except for its name; thin escalope of breaded pork deep fried. Can’t say I was overwhelmed by this classic recipe, nonetheless it was a jolly good slice of juicy, tender pork.

I thought the food had less wow-factor, perhaps it had to do with my expectations. I assumed at least one dish would make me close my eyes, grin and go ‘hmmm’. That said, I didn’t cringe at anything either. Just not overly excited about it, and wasn’t rushing to write this piece. So… no, I don’t think Polpo is as good as Spuntino, then again, Spuntino is a little hard to beat.

41 Beak Street
Tel: 0207 734 4479

Polpo on Urbanspoon
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