After an afternoon of ice skating at Somerset House we headed over to nearby Covent Garden for a late lunch. Venetian restaurant, Polpo on Maiden Lane seemed like just the place for a quiet bite to eat.
Offering small plates, known in Italy as cicchetti, Polpo is a bàcaro. Bàcaro is a Venetian word used to describe a humble restaurant serving simple food and good, young local wines.
The first Polpo opened on Beak Street, Soho in September 2009. It was lovely to hear that the building was once home to Canaletto, a famous Venetian painter of landscapes of Venice. Apparently there is a blue plaque on the wall to commemorate this remarkable coincidence. Polpo Covent Garden was the second to open in June 2011 and since then two further restaurants have opened in Smithfield and Notting Hill.
On arrival we were initially sat at the bar which was a bit of a squish in between couples and groups halfway through their lunches. Luckily a table became free which was kindly offered to us immediately.
Polpo’s menu is split into sections, offering cicheti (small snacks or side dishes), pizzette, breads, meatballs, meat, fish, vegetables and salads. Our waitress explained the menu, suggested we order two dishes per person to share between us and told us that food would arrive at the table in stages – as soon as it is ready to eat.
First up crab arancini. Served on a tiny plate with a cocktail stick holding the two together, the risotto balls were filled with tasty crab, coated in breadcrumbs and fried. I definitely could have eaten more of them if I hadn’t know more food was coming.
Next up, pig head crostini. I was a little apprehensive about this one but boy it was yummy! Cold pulled pork cut mixed with pickled gherkins served on a small slice of grilled bread.
The pizzette was awesomely fresh, the dough was fluffy and light. Smoked mozzarella and rocket covered the base of the pizza and layers of thinly sliced dry-cured prosciutto drizzled with olive oil perfectly complete the dish.
We chose the lamb & green peppercorn meatballs but wished we’d opted for another simply because the peppercorns were far too powerful! Biting into one was a bit of a fireball to the mouth. The lamb was nice but the rich tomato sauce was the best bit.
Finally, we couldn’t go to Polpo (the restaurant branded with an octopus) without getting the braised octopus, treviso & borlotti. I think this must of been my first experience of braised octopus, it was a nice flavour but the texture is a hard one to love – a little on the chewy side. That said, the treviso (radicchio, a type of leafy chicory) and borlotti (a type of kidney bean) made up the best part of the dish. Delicious flavour and extremely comforting on a cold January day.
I really enjoyed Polpo, the staff were welcoming and attentive. Our choice of food provided us with a variety of textures and flavours. Glad to have ticked it off my to-do list.
ADDRESS: 6 Maiden Lane, London WC2E 7NA
CONTACT: 020 7836 8448
OPENING HOURS: 12pm – 11.30pm Monday to Saturday and 12pm – 10.30pm on Sunday