Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Restaurant Review: Polpo Smithfield

Russell Norman's fabulous Polpo chain coming to Farringdon is very exciting. The Soho institutions are incredibly popular and notoriously difficult to reserve a table. The Farringdon operation, likely as catering for the city/working lunch and dinner crowd does take bookings. Hurrah
Although it looks under-construction Polpo is now open for business
Polpo Menu
Cosy interior, fills up for lunch around 12.45
The Smithfield Polpo branch opened yesterday to a fully booked lunch session. Today was my turn! We arrived early to make the most of the lunch shift, so it was pleasantly quiet on arrival. We were seated on a nice central table and presented with the wine 'board' I love the rustic touches and this was no exception. The menu's are the place cards and we simply couldn't decide on just the one thing to order so we opted for pretty much everything.

The meals arrive as and when they are ready and the menu items are designed for sharing, like grown up tapas. First to arrive was the Fritto Misto, which are lightly fried mixed fish including king prawns, calimari and white bait. The batter on these was incredibly light and flaky, delicious. 

Next up cured pork shoulder pizza, this was on the thinnest crispiest base ever and the topping was absolutely delicious. It would later turn out to be one of my favourite dishes of the day. Highly recommend. We also ordered the Bresaola pizetta which is aged salt beef. This again was thin and crispy but was lacking a certain something that the pork shoulder had in droves.
Pork Pizetta
Salt beef pizetta
We also ordered bread, but this wasn't your standard bread basket. The Pane carasau, prosciutto bianco, walnuts and cracked black pepper was divine. Again incredibly thin almost like a crisp consistency. The bacon and the walnuts went perfectly. I was trying not to fill up before the main events arrived. I'd also convinced myself this thin consistency meant it wasn't all that unhealthy and I definitely wasn't carb loading.
Bacon and walnut on bread, who knew this would be so amazing?
There are a selection of meatballs on offer. We opted for spicy pork and fennel. For me they were too aniseed-y and not enough spicy pork-y. If you were a big fan of fennel however you would have enjoyed them. The balls were enormous and in a nice fresh sauce. There are plenty of flavours on offer so next time, another flavour...
Aniseed rather than spice
Almost getting to the pièce de résistance the next thing up was linguine vongole. When I had a sneak peek at the menu the day before this was the sure thing to be ordered. It was smaller than I expected which was probably a good thing as we had clearly ordered enough to feed the 5,000. There were plenty of clams involved and the spaghetti was al dente. 
Linguine Volgole
Finally the best thing I have eaten in a little while. Steak is a tricky little devil and can be too chewy, too fatty or flavourless. This was a roll your head back and groan sliced flank steak with white truffle oil, and my god it was good. We also ordered heritage tomatoes on the side, which were functional...all in all made me feel this meal wasn't entirely unhealthy. One may say I tricked myself...
Sliced flank stead with white truffle oil
Oh. So. Good
Heritage tomatoes, making this a well rounded healthy meal
Not quite open yet but incredibly exciting opening underneath the Smithfield restaurant is the Negronni bar. All you have to pacify you for now is the Neon Sign. Want.

I will definitely be back to Polpo Smithfield and am still dying to try the Soho variants. A meal for two with wine if you stick to a sensible number of dishes (unlike us) you are looking around £60-£75. The quality and atmosphere are great, well worth it in my book.

Atmosphere: 4/5 Lovely decor, cosy with a nice crowd
Food: 4/5 great selection, mouth watering steak
Drink: 4/5 I'm a sucker for carafes, and reasonably priced cocktails (starting at £7)
Overall: 4/5

Bring on Mishkins...
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