Polpo is a lovely place in London. I have long been a fan of the Covent Garden outpost (delicious meatballs), and have even been known to frequent the Smithfield spot. Recently the restaurant has been rolling out new spots as quick as it takes for me to enjoy a gin and tonic on a summer evening- and I wasn’t convinced that was a good thing. The two newest outposts- Cambridge Circus and Duke of York Square- seemed too big and too flashy to make for great restaurants.
What I love about Polpo, originally, is that the food is great and simple- without losing the Venetian flavours it purports to represent. The small menus are appealing and diverse too- and it’s reasonably priced for what it is. I was worried that the new openings might not be able to carry this simple formula well, and buckle under the pressure to turn outrageous profits and cover the expensive rents.
So I was sceptical when the Pal and I turned up without a reservation to the Duke of York spot- recently launched in May. We were seated quickly, and served attentively by a friendly french fella. We ordered gin and tonics, and they were pleasingly strong.
The food was very good indeed, I am happy to report. It was very warm outside so as we sat in the patio, we decided to go for seafood dishes only, and that was a smart move. Everything tasted fresh and delicious, especially the octopus and fennel carpaccio.
Also delicious was the swordfish tartare, served with paper thin flatbread and sour cream. Indeed, I cannot really find any fault with any of the food. It was all very delicate and balanced- and it all tasted super fresh.
We even decided to indulge with a Nutella pizette fore dessert. And even though that was good (of course it was, it was slathered with Nutella), it was the least exciting of all the dishes we had. The base was a little soft, and it had some weird nutty caramels on top that added no flavour but stuck to our teeth. We still ate it all and enjoyed it though….
Even though we were seated in one of the coveted outside tables, we never felt rushed and the service was prompt and polite. In the end, we each spent less than £30 but had a great meal. I would certainly return to enjoy another cold drink in their pleasant patio tables to watch the world go by.