This tiny Venetian tapas restaurant in the middle of Soho has really made quite a splash since it opened earlier this month. Harnessing the power of social media, Polpo‘s owners have managed to drill down into the heart of the London foodie community and probably get more food blogger reviews in a few weeks than other restaurants have in years. Now, whether that’s a good strategy for a new restaurant remains to be seen – the reviews from what I can tell are a mixed bag. My experience, however, was definitely a positive one.
I managed to snag a table for 3 for a 2pm lunch. The restaurant is still hopping. We sit down and take a look at the menu. I have a momentary freakout because I’m with one vegetarian and one sort of vegetarian, and at first glance it doesn’t seem like there’s much on the menu for them to eat. A bit of detective work, however, found veggie dishes popping out from other categories.
We start out with some green tapenade crostini, potato & parmesan croquette and salt cod on polenta:
The croquettes are lovely, as is the salt cod. I’m not too much a fan of the crostini. The tapenade had a weird rubbery texture I couldn’t quite get used to.
We also tried the grilled zucchini:
This was fantastic. There was a nice bit of bread crumbs on top to give it a bit of a crunch. The zucchini itself had a nice bite to it as well (seems they were generous with the lemon). I always think zucchini has the potential to come out very soggy depending on how its cooked, but this was done perfectly.
Next up was a dish specifically for the carnivore at the table (me). Roast pumpkin with prosciutto and Parmesan:
OMG. This was soo good. Very simple, elegant blend of savoury flavours. The cheese was a sharp balance to the warm pumpkin. I’m making this at home. Easy, super fantastic dish.
This white pizza was a blend of cheeses with some very sweet roasted onions. It was a good size portion. I would order it again.
I don’t think I eat enough polenta. It’s such a great side dish. Ours was a bit on cold, but that didn’t detract from it. There was a hint of sweetness in the dish that made it pair well with whatever else we had at the table, including this dish of turnip tops, chili and garlic:
For me, the only slight disappointment was dessert. We all went for the chocolate ganache cake, which we were assured was the best on the menu. While it was indeed tasty, it didn’t blow me away. It was less a chocolate cake, as it was a lemon cake with a bit of chocolate sauce. I like to keep my chocolate separate from my citrus, but that’s just me…
So far, I’m a fan of Polpo. I’d definitely like to give it another go some time, particularly to try some of the other meat dishes – especially because I was so fond of the pumpkin ham. It will be interesting to see if it stands the test of time now that all the blog buzz is starting to die down.
Only time will tell…