I had two very different experiences at Polpo, the Venetian bàcaro. The first time I went to the Soho branch, we waited for a table at the Campari bar downstairs, which was dingy and quite charming. I also didn’t know that Polpo was a mini-chain at the time, which also helped my impression of it. We had some Chicheti, Pizzette and Meatball Spaghettini. I really like the latter because of its simplicity and the fact that it reminded me of the spaghetti and meatballs that the Lady and the Tramp share in the 1955 Disney movie. I always wanted to eat like that, and this is the closest thing I’ve been able to find. The second time I went, I ate at the Smithfield restaurant, a larger space, which was also very busy and popular. We shared some dishes, and quite a few of them were disappointing. The Cuttlefish & Ink Risotto with Gremolata was decent, but I wouldn’t have wanted to eat the whole dish on my own, as the texture is quite heavy. The Prosciutto was very poor and tasteless, and the Foccacia was more like a dry baguette than the moist Italian bread it should be. The Sliced Flank Steak with White Truffle Cream simply tasted strange and too much of charcoal. My friend rightfully pointed out that her drink was the smallest Negroni she ever did see. The serving of wine was generous though, in a cute little carafe. I was very happy with my Aperol Spritz as the size was decent and it came with an olive in addition to the usual orange slice, and I love any drink with an olive. I guess Polpo is one of those places that will draw crowds every day of the week because of the interior and atmosphere, and not so much because of the quality of the food.
3 Cowcross Street, Smithfield, London EC1M 6DR