For someone who loves her restaurants I can’t believe its taken me this long to take my foodie self to the small plates empire known as Polpo. I thank my fellow food lover Mrs Larkin for the introduction to this Venetian bacaro. The Italian’s version of a gastropub, where the locals wines mingle with the posh bar snacks.
We arrived on a busy Saturday night, always a risk when its a restaurant that operates a no-reservations policy at dinner. It means you either have to go early. Wait. Or get lucky. Fortunately the latter happened, and we were seated at the bar with full view of all the action (the best seat in the house when you’re a twosome).
Housed in a large Georgian townhouse in the heart of Chelsea, Duke of York Square. Polpo Chelsea takes on the features of the house with the huge Georgian sash windows and combines it with the rustic italian style of bare wooden furniture, antique maps of venice, exposed brick walls, tin ceiling tiles, zinc bar tops and lights shades made out of white hankies. Giving the whole place rather a warm and homely feel.
We kicked off our menu browsing with bellini’s. Served in small tumbler glasses, they went down a bit too well. The menu is split into sections, offering cicchetti (small snacks), pizzette, breads, meatballs, meat, fish, vegetables and salads. My eyes were pinging with delight at the number of vegetarian options on offer.
We started with the arancini, deep-fried risotto balls (£4). Covered in a lovely crunchy crust filled with well seasoned creamy soft rice. It could have done with some kind of dip, regardless I could have eaten more.
This was closely followed by a pizzette from the specials menu – tomato, chilli and olives. The light and fluffy base was graced with juicy toppings and it didn’t take long to hoover up. The rest of our selection consisted of fennel, almond & curly endive salad (£5), rosemary roast potatoes (£5) and one of the best dishes that has passed my lips this half of the year! Chickpea, spinach and ricotta meatballs (£6). Oh my! Soft, creamy, flavoursome balls of joy covered in a tasty tomatoey sauce. How these have not been in my life until this day I do not know?! The fact that I could look at a meatballs menu and still order was thrilling in itself (vegetarians love being included).
Not forgetting the carnivores and pescatarians among us there were an array of dishes ranging from pork belly, flank steak, cod cheeks and duck ragu. Plus the restaurants namesake marinated baby octopuses.
We foolishly skipped dessert, tiramisu, nutella pizzetta and flourless pistachio and almond cake were a few of the sweet treats on offer. Instead we opted to end our feast in classic Sima and Maria style with a fresh mint tea.
The food certainly lived up to the hype and combined with the reasonable prices, it’s easy to see why Polpo draws in the crowds. I was impressed with the hospitable and swift service too. Russell Norman’s Venetian tapas chain sensation can be found on nearly every corner of Central London, Soho, Covent Garden, Notting Hill and Smithfield. Along with its sibling restaurants Polpette, American styled Spuntino and Polpo at Ape and Bird. Plenty of places for me to add to my foodie hit list!
Is there a restaurant you’ve been itching to goto? Did it live up to your expectations? Let me know in the comments box below.
Polpo Chelsea | 81 Duke of York Square | London | SW3 4LY
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