I am a massive fan of Venice and Venetian food as I have been religiously visiting that floating city for it’s Film Festival for over 10 years. In that time, I have found many non touristy places to eat and have been delighted with new flavours and seafood from the Venetian Lagoon.
When Polpo announced that they were opening a little offshoot, I had to go along to check it out. Both Polpo and Polpetto’s menus are based on those served in Baccarros (wine bars) in Venice where you would normally stand at the bar and order some local wine or a spritz ( a bright orange concoction made with Aperol, White Wine and ) and some cicchetti, small plates not unlike tapas.
A quick tweet to Polpo secured us a table for lunch during their opening frenzy.
Polpetto is found above The French House in Soho. If you weren’t looking for their Octopus signboard, you would probably have missed it altogether. The dining room is quite small and the tables are squeezed in. Not a place for a romantic meal. For lunch, it was buzzy and with the windows open, there was the sounds of soho wafting up.
The menu was a mixture of cicchetti and some other better know Italian dishes, not all the same as on the Polpo menu. In my opinion, not enough choices on the cichetti side as I was expecting the Venetian style massive array of little plates.
To start, we ordered some Duck Porcini Meatballs (inspired by one of the older baccaros in Venice, Alla Vedova (see bleow) which was sadly closed on our last visit) and the crispy soft shell crab in parmesan crust.The meatballs were very well in a tomato sauce and was a delightfully tasty morsel. Luckily it was only one each or we would have been totally stuffed before the mains.
The crab didn’t arrive as a starter but together with the mains but as one of the mains was delayed, all was fine. Crispy soft shell crab, didn’t get any of the parmesan flavour in the crust and served with a sliced fennel coleslaw. Rather too large a portion for one person to have as a starter but shared, it was fine.
This was swiftly followed by the Veal Osso Bucco on saffron risotto. The veal was falling off the bone tender but the saffron risotto was great for the first couple of mouthfuls but just too rich for my taste.
The Flank Steak must have been a winner at Polpo so we had to order it. The beef, cooked medium rare, was very chewy and after the first hit of truffle flavour, not a great mouthful.
Zucchini Fries, light and crispy, just right.
Since it was lunchtime, we shared a pudding, the Chocolate Tart. Very chocolatey and really delicious and perfect finish.
So overall, the food is a bit hit and miss with some delights. The service was a little chaotic and if you don’t mind getting your food when it’s ready, then it will work out great. Our lovely waiter Daniel in the pic below was very friendly and helpful with the The place is very buzzy and quite noisy when all 28 seats are filled. With tables set so close together, you feel like you have suddenly gained new friends over the meal. At lunchtime, the frenetic energy is perfect but probably will not make for a relaxing evening meal.
The booking policy needs to be mentioned, you can book for lunch but it’s a first come first served basis for dinner. The bill with a couple of glasses of wine came to £50.