Saturday 28 January 2012

Polpo: A Little Disappointing

I loved every mouthful at Polptto when I visited earlier in the week, so when we failed to get into Pitt Cue Co. (there was a queue of 40 by six in the evening), we thought we would give Polpo a shot.  The original restaurant in Russell Norman's ever-growing empire, I had high hopes for Polpo. 

Once again this place has the trademark bar with high seats, low hanging light bulbs and stripped brickwork.  With a long wait ahead of us for a table (there are no reservations), we propped ourselves up against the bar and ordered an old fashioned (good, but not great), a great moscow mule (they had run out of Worcesterhshire sauce so the Fashionista couldn't get her Bloody Mary fix), some arancini (fried Italian rice balls) and some olives.  The arancini were stuffed with melted mozarella and were really good.

After about an hour's wait we got a table.  Having eyed the menu while we waited we promptly ordered a chickpea and anchovy crostini and potato and parmesan croquetta to start.  Following this we ordered the flank steak with porcini sauce, the cotechino (a slow-cooked Italian sausage made by stuffing pork intestine with pork, pork rind and wine) and braised cabbage, some roasties and cauliflower gratin.

What I forgot is that, like all Russell Norman restaurants, the food comes out when the kitchen decides its ready, rather than in any logical order.  This works well at Spuntino and Mishkins where most of the dishes are tapas-sized, but not so well in a restaurant with a more convential small and large plate menu.

First came the roast potatoes - very very disappointing.  Luke warm when served and not crispy at all.  A second later came our "starter" of croquetta (also below par) and crostini topped with a tasty mixture of chickpea and anhovies. 

Then came the cauliflower gratin - creamy and delicious.  Then when the potatoes had already been on the table for about ten minutes, the flank steak.  This was the best dish of the evening - creamy porcini sauce, very well seasoned and tender steak, all served tossed through rocket.  Very tasty.

When all other dishes had been finished, out came the cotechino.  The cabbage had been braised in stock and the cotechino was suitably gelatinous.  It was, however, not a patch on that which I had tried at Da Enzos in Modena. 

With a caraffe of wine it came to ninety five quid. Although some of the dishes were quite good for me it was just not worth it.  I have loved all my other visits to this ever-growing empire - the food at Polpetto was probably my favourite meal so far in 2012.  Maybe it was because they were so busy, maybe the group has taken their eye off the ball at their longest standing restaurant, what with all the other openings - but for that price you can eat much better elsewhere.  I would suggest giving it a miss and heading on up to Polpetto to get involved in some of their incredible maltagliati.

P.S. Again no photos, just too dark for my old school iPhone 3GS.   

Polpo on Urbanspoon

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