Tuesday 24 January 2012

Polpetto, Incredible Chestnut Pasta

I have now completed three fifths of Russell Norman’s uber-cool restaurant empire:  Spuntino’s (the coolest of the lot) was good, the meatloaf at Mishkins made me smile from ear to ear, and now Polpetto.  Polpo and da Polpo to go. With Spuntino and Mishkins scoring highly I am happy to report that Polpetto did not disappoint.

Dinner last night was with an old friend from Canada who has been studying in London for six months already (I should have met up before much to my shame!).  Her experiences of food in London have, thus far, been expensive and disappointing.  On one occasion, when querying why the pho she had been given lacked the deep flavour that only comes from a stock made over many hours, the restaurant offered soy sauce by way of recompense.  I forgot to ask the name of the restaurant concerned - such laziness should be publicly named and shamed.  So, with such negative experiences to date, the pressure was on to deliver a cheap and cheerful but delicious dinner.  We tried Barafina and Duck Soup but both had queues out the door – we settled on Polpetto.

Located in a tiny space above the French House pub (it seats 28), the décor is all long-hanging light bulbs and stripped-back red bricks – needless to say you know you are in a Russell Norman restaurant.  One difference is noticeable from the outset, however, the staff are incredibly friendly (as opposed to Mishkins and Spuntinos where rumours abound of bad service - although I should say that on all of my visits the service has been nothing but friendly).  Sat at a table by the window, we pondered the menu, the waitress providing useful tips on the dishes.

To start we went for the polpette (meatballs in a rich tomato sauce) and zucchini fritters with lardo (pig back fat cured with rosemary - always good, even if it isn't the healthiest).  Both were delicious and rapidly devoured.

For second course I went for the chestnut maltagliati with sage and butter sauce.  Originally maltagliati pasta was made up from the off-cuts of other bits of pasta – lots of pieces of varying size.  Apparently the interesting shapes have now become so popular in Italy, however, that it is now considered a form of pasta in its own right.  If Polpetto’s chestnut maltagliati is anything to go by I can understand why.  Large trapezoid shapes of al dente chestnut pasta drenched in delicious, rich sage butter with a few crunchy pieces of chestnut interspersed – very good indeed.

My friend order the pork shoulder with rhubarb – the pork melted in your mouth, the rhubarb was tart and cut through the richness of the pork.  We asked for some lentils as well and these came served under the pork and added an earthiness without which the dish might have been lacking.  With the lentils, however, it was delicious.

On the side we also shared some cavolo nero – tender and reasonably tasty but nothing special.

All in all the food at Polpetto was very good indeed.  Perhaps a little pricier than Mishkins and Spuntinos but with the cosy atmosphere, the friendly service and the delicious food it is more than worth it.

P.S. Sorry no pics this time - the restaurant was just too dark for my poxy iPhone 3GS and I didn't have my camera with me.

Polpetto on Urbanspoon

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