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Russell Norman’s original take on a Venetian bácaro has spawned siblings and imitators across the capital, but Polpo’s queues still start early, whether you’re after a hit in the overflow Campari
bar downstairs or a berth in the warmly lit dining room. The genre-defining mix of ‘rough edges’, brick walls and deliberately scuffed plaster, with brown-paper menus and glass tumblers atop worn
tables feels too ‘cool’ for some, but great-value small plates win over most punters: try gooey arancini or anchovy-and-chickpea crostini, followed by rich meatballs on spaghettini or cuttlefish in
a silky black-ink risotto – a dish that enjoys an evangelical following. Carafes of house wine(served in three different sizes) keep the bill from climbing, as do competitively priced all-Italian
bottles. On the downside, ‘brusque’, scatty service can sometimes rub customers up the wrong way, however.
I always feel like a tourist when I head over to the West End, especially on a Friday night when everyone is celebrating the start of the weekend - it feels like being on holiday! My lovely friend Ceri had invited me to a screening at the Ham Yard Hotel so we decided to eat nearby at Polpo, a Venetian restaurant serving small plates of simple food. I came here when it first opened in September 2009 and I had good memories!There is so much on the menu to choose from - cicheti, pizzette, bread, meatballs, meat, fish, vegetables and salads….I would have liked to order the whole lot (no surprise there)....
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Polpo opened its doors in 2009 in Soho and has since built a reputation of offering specialist Italian cuisine from Venice. Its huge success has meant it's opened up a few restaurants across London and has become a mini chain providing some of Soho's finest tapas. Its reputation tempted us to visit the chain on a Sunday evening and as we walked in to the dimly lit restaurant, we had high expectations.
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