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|Address:||2-3 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6DR|
|Tel:||020 7250 0034|
|Price: £39.00||Wine: £17.00||Champagne: £66.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-11pm (Sun -4pm)|
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This branch of Polpo isn't just inspired by the original, it's a near replica. The mix of tables and bar stool eating is the same; the exposed brickwork meets reclaimed white Victorian toilet tiles are the same; there's even the same bijou downstairs bar room. Normally such cloning would have me sighing over the inevitable lust to which every successful restauranteur seems to succumb, to turn their little one-off independent gem into a branded chain. Gah. But for once, I won't complain, because Polpo has got it so right it would be wrong to prevent it offering its pleasures to the maximum number of people possible and its location at Smithfield, where butcher boys rub shoulders with Clerkenwell gents, is inspired. I was at this branch for lunch and, woopeedoo, you can book! Having said that, they weren't very flexible on the booking times despite being curiously half empty on a Friday lunch time at 1pm. Despite this the atmosphere maintains its usual hum with laid back rustic charm. The menu is on its usual rough recycled type paper (presumably designed to give the impression that its disposable and changes every day but it never changes much as far as I can tell). The food is its usual quality: actually the cuttlefish in ink risotto if anything has got even more delicious; the bruschetta, which I hadn't tried before, turned out to be substantial hunks of bread with creamy cheese; I loved the flourless orange cake. Service is friendly as ever (well, I find it to be friendly, others may demur). For £40 a head it's not the cheapest lunch you could have, but it's worth it. I'd probably pass on the house white another time, but other than that this is an experience I would happily repeat again and again and again.