Monday, 19 September 2011


Perhaps I should have bought a lottery ticket last Saturday, as after a film at the Curzon, my party of three managed a walk-in to Polpetto just before 9pm which must be a miracle. I felt almost sheepish asking but we scored a tiny table in the corner, which we convinced ourselves was cosy because it was Polpetto but anywhere else would have been laughable, and a boozy Saturday dinner in Soho was born.

Diddy wine glasses charged with the group’s own Prosecco, we got down to business.

bruschetta of the Gods...
The bruschetta with tomato and basil here is something special. The tomatoes are piping hot and creamy, and oozing their own juices onto a bed of the freshest focaccia, tons of basil and olive oil. It was a bit pricey in terms of ingredients maybe (£5-ish) but well worth it. I ended up ordering a second one just for me after we’d shared the first. Delicious!

The zucchini fries (£4.50) were a nice dish. Everyone loves chips, including every honest foodie, so proffering something similar but more virtuous is always going to be a winner. The zucchini with pecorino was a little disappointing – mainly because I was expecting some big chunks of pecorino and got wafer-thin shavings.

zucchini and pecorino
forgotten this, but same juice/gloop features...
Quail on greens (£8.50) was also not the greatest. Bistrot Bruno Loubet’s incarnation of this dish on risotto is one of my favourite recent meals and this paled in comparison. 

The pizzette here are famous, and the cured pork shoulder and pepper pizzetta (£6.50) hit the spot. Meaty and filling, with the right amount of kick from the peppers and grease from the pork – again, I could have ordered two.

pork pizzette
The crab trofie (£7.50) was an unexpectedly popular dish and would make a proud main dish at any Italian, not bad for a deliberately non-pasta concept here. A clam spaghetti dish was scoffed down with equal praise and fervour. 

trofie and crab
On the whole, not every dish quite worked out, and looking now at the photos, several of them seem to have excreted a scarily consistent yellow juice which is a bit questionable. 

clam spaghetti   
But I like it and I am a sucker for the wider Polpo group and their venues but Polpetto’s size and location above The French House make it a little more special. London must have so many dining rooms above generic West End pubs (not that I am saying French House is one) which are underused and could be sublet to smaller restaurant offerings. In Australia I remember some ordinary pubs had swankier cocktail bars upstairs which were basically unrelated. Couldn’t we have more of this in the West End where rents for start-ups must be so outrageous?

It’s sultry, intimate and a little conspiratorial; a terrific place for a small group or a couple to get rather merry with some good sharing food to enjoy. I wish it were open a bit later (in New York, you’d be there until 2am easily) but that’s a wider, oft-peddled gripe of mine about late dining in London.

Food – 7/10
Drink – 8/10
Service - 7/10
Value – 7/10 (about £50 a head with a prosecco, another bottle of wine and lots of food, not bad in total)
Tap water tales – 8/10 (carafe brought straight away)  
Staff Hotness – 7/10 (skinny, black-clad indie kids but competent with it)
Polpetto on Urbanspoon

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