A few nights ago I was en route to Wahaca before seeing Derren Brown show Svengali in the West End. As I'm under strict instructions not to reveal anything about Brown's show, I'll settle on commenting about the pre-show grub. My companion and I were rushing as we only had an hour to eat but I couldn't bare the thought of an overpriced bowl of pasta in a tourist trap. Dashing up the road out of the rain, Polpo caught my eye. I instinctively gravitated toward the curled up menu pasted in the window. I knew I'd read about this place somewhere and felt a flutter of excitement. Wahaca could wait.
The outside of Polpo, Covent Garden has framed windows with paint peeling and its trademark octopus sign hanging above the door. Imagine a shop face that would fit in on Harry Potter's Diagon Alley. Once inside we were warmly greeted. The magic continued, though it was Venetian simplicity not wizardry we were met with. The concept is simple; Venetian cuisine and elegance. It's laid back enough to encase you in a peculiar sensation of being on a city break in Europe. Service isn't slow or rude, but efficient, with our waiter Davide offering us tips on what to order (we took all of them and were not disappointed.)
We ordered delights such as pork and beef meatballs with spaghetti and Piadina meatball smash. Sounds simple enough but the real star was the sumptuous tomato sauce. It was so rich and flavoursome, the sort of sauce I have never been able to recreate at home. Clearly the work of an accomplished chef would loves his craft. You can choose your meatball flavour from spicy pork and fennel, veal and porcini, chickpea and ricotta. I opted for the spicy pork and fennel, which wasn't spicy at all but was delectable. Deciding to share dishes as Davide suggested, we also devoured parmesan and potato croquettas, focaccia with olive oil to scoop up the left over sauce.
For its quality, Polpo is surprisingly inexpensive, spagetti and meatballs setting you back around 9 pounds. Our bill including cocktails came to £37 including tip! A revelation in London, surely. I am so chuffed to have found a restaurant that does good quality, mid price food. There is so much more of the menu I would like to try, including the seafood offering; Mackerel tartare, fritto misto, or the octopus and potato salad. Oh and I wish I'd had room for dessert. I'd have ordered the chocolate salami, purely for curiosities sake.
We dined over flickering candle light. It reflected off the white washed walls and stripped wood of the table shared with other diners. For those who desire a more intimate experience, usual tables are offered. I cannot recommend this place more.