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6 Maiden Lane
What was da Polpo is now nominally aligned with its siblings in Soho and Smithfield; otherwise, little else has changed in this Covent Garden eatery. Beyond the bright-green facade, the studied
couldn't-care-less interior of chipped tiles, murky lighting and scuffed walls remains – as do the rustic small plates, heavy-duty cocktails and no-nonsense carafes of decent wine. Everything
tempts on the menu, but polite staff often seem preoccupied and the food can disappoint: underdone arancini balls, over-spiced meatballs and lukewarm cotechino sausage with mealy borlotti beans
suggest a kitchen too busy to care. Best to stick to ‘simple but delicious' fail-safes including fritto misto or spinach and parmesan pizzette topped with a poached egg. For dessert, avoid the
measly baked peaches with over-whipped cream in favour of boozy tiramisu. Note: this branch takes bookings from 12N-6pm.
6 Maiden Lane
Covent Garden Tube Station 282m
Charing Cross Tube Station 318m
Vaudeville Theatre 51m
Adelphi Theatre 72m
Mon-Sat 12N-12M (Sun -10.30pm)
Seating up to 30, the Aperol Bar is a great space for any occasion. Featuring a private bar, unique Aperol mural and plenty of natural light, it’s also a great place for a cocktail masterclass.
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 2
Went on a Saturday at 4pm with my partner as he likes his seafood.
The service: A waitress took half of our drinks order and rushed away, then came back 5 minutes later to take our drinks order again. We ordered the food at the same time.
There was a confused waiter who kept on bringing us things we hadn't ordered.
The food: We ordered the Earl grey lemonade, the baby octopuses, mozzarella and tomato skewers, garlic bread and spaghetti & meatballs.
My earl grey lemonade had no hints of earl grey, the baby octopuses we like chewing on hard rubber with absolutely no flavour, the skewers were nice. The garlic bread took ages after everything else was on the table although we kept on seeing pizzas passing by. The meatballs were crunchy on the outside but decent. The sauce on the pasta wasn't more than passata with a bit of salt.
I always supported the idea that to screw up Italian food you have to be either a really bad cook or use sub-par ingredients. Because of it's simplicity it's not so easily ruined. Polpo has managed to do this.
The prices expensive for the quality served and it was an overall huge disappointment.
Food + drink: 4
We brought some friends from the US here whilst on a tour of London, and had a great meal. As it was busy we were seated on the two high stool tables of 6 each, which was fine. The food was, as always good, with a nice variety of small plates to share, but the menu seemed smaller than I remembered (a bit less choice?). That said, with pizette, crab linguine, the wonderful meat and vegetarian meatballs, arancini, potato and parmesan croquettes and focaccia and olive oil, I am a pretty happy customer.
Service is always good, staff are happy to chat and have some fun, bill came to around £22 a head with plenty of wine consumed.
Food + drink: 3
I've eaten at this Polpo before, though not as often as I've dined at Polpetto which I prefer and was pleased when it re-emerged.
Lets deal with the place and the style first. Its small plates , and supposedly about sharing. But how you can share with someone who likes different food to you I'm not terribly sure. What it means is that dishes come seemingly randomly and there isn't sufficient space on the tiny tables to put everything down comfortably. And the random aspect is weird too. Mt daughter ordered a veg. , and a meat plate.. The veg came first and she was looking at a plate of cabbage , getting cold as she watched, for several minutes whilst her meatballs turned up. And this is supposed to be good? Fashionable? The place itself consists of small rooms , each with one or two too many tables. The whole concept of a meal as a relaxed, comfortable, maybe a little private experience seems to have passed them by, and in particular the fact that if you're going to serve small plates randomly, you need to give people more space whereas they give you less. All told we had three plates and two veg and we were finished in twenty eight minutes. Difficult to avoid a conclusion that they place table turnover ahead of customer enjoyment. We'd planned to order more, but after this our hearts just weren't in it I'm afraid.
The food was OK- not outstanding but certainly decent. If there's anyone who wants to see what this broad type of food can taste like then I'd suggest Zucca, in Bermondsey, where they squeeze a lot more flavour from pulses and meats . They seem very proud of their meatballs- well they're OK, fine even, but they aren't a gastromomic experience any more than meatloaf would be. Certainly the food we ate and the wine we drank (left some of that, just wasn't time to drink it) was all satisfactory but would have been better eaten somewhere else.
Our meal wasn't expensive, but the thought does occur about how much you'd spend if you ordered enough food to occupy the table for say the 75 minutes that a 2 course lunch with coffee would take on average, and if there were two wine drinkers not just one. My guess would be maybe £100 for two, and that with e the speed of arrivals here you'd be very stuffed. Fact is that I can eat pretty well at lunch by spending that.
Sorry, could be my sort of food, but this isn't my sort of place or my sort of style. Can't see me going back.
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