Polpo, Soho, Emperor's New Clothes

I went here a while back with Big Matt’s parents who happened to be up in the West End and popped in to the office to say hello. They were down in London for shopping and a show and invited me along for a quick bite if I could recommend an Italian. I was a bit stuck as my favourite non chain place “Il Pizzaolio” was away in the wrong direction so we wandered into Soho where I hoped that inspiration would grab me. As it was as we turned into Beak Street I saw Polpo and suggested we try for a table. It was busy inside but we were seated straight away so none of the queue rage/table envy experienced by many other reviewers on this site.

We picked a fair few items off the menu to try but I wasn’t bowled over. I realise that this is essentially Italian tapas but I did think there were too many bread options on it which aren’t a great challenge for the kitchen. We ordered a couple of fish dishes, one meat and a pasta dish. All were nice but nothing superlative and due to the piecemeal nature of them arriving it never really worked as a proper meal for 3. I think Tapas and to a greater degree Chinese work so well because the kitchens tend to get everything out together. I also felt that the pasta dish which was the best of our selection was very small, personally I think for pasta to work as a sharing dish you need a decent portion so you can use it as a side. The carafe of white wine we had however was very nice, it wasn’t too punchy so I didn’t spend the afternoon fighting off sleep. As I said the restaurant was busy so there was a nice buzz from the room which made up for the so so food.

All in all not a very successful meal out. It has to be said I am getting a bit fed up with the fad for sharing plates. I know someone is going to tell me that Italians have been doing sharing plates for years and this isn’t an example of the emperor’s new unimpressive wardrobe. I don’t think a lot of Italian food lends itself to this concept and it showed in the menu. If I want to share Italian food in future I will stick to my pizza at “Pizza Metro”. I didn’t pay for the meal but I know the bill was high for what we had. I think there is obviously some good money to be made giving the gullible smaller portions and calling it tapas.

Monday, November 14, 2011
Overall rating
Food 5 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 4

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