Polpo Soho
Polpo Soho
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SquareMeal Review of Polpo Soho

Bronze Award

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.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cuisines
Italian
Ambience
Cosy, Fun, Lively
Special Features
Counter dining
People
Child friendly, Dates, Romantic
Food Hygiene Rating

Polpo Soho is featured in

SquareMeal Bronze Awards

Location for Polpo Soho

41 Beak Street, Soho, London, W1F 9SB

020 7734 4479

Website

Opening Times

Mon-Fri 8am-11pm Sat-Sun 12N-11pm (Sun -4pm)

Reviews of Polpo Soho

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32 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Lisa B

12 August 2019  
Really buzzy atmosphere, well priced and huge selection of dishes good for sharing.

Carly R

28 June 2019  
Really decent food in a relaxed and chilled atmosphere. Casual.

Helen H

10 July 2018  
Fantastic Italian food and good value for money.

Claire S

27 June 2018  
Chic, relaxed and classy, this tiny tapsrestaurant offers incredible food with a relaxed and authentic vibe.

Eloise M

21 March 2018  
Great food!

Vicki Y

31 May 2016  
Great value food, good selection and good service. Consistent quality across all Polpo outlets.

Dorothea A

15 February 2013  
Reading reviews of Polpo and their menu it looked like exactly the kind of place I would love and I was very excited about the prospect of our meal there. However, the service turned the experience into somewhat of a disaster. I met a friend for a catch up an hour before our reservation when the rest of our party were due to arrive. We asked Polpo if we could sit at the bar and were sharply told 'no, it's for food only' when I said we were eating in an hour the front of house pointed to the corner and said we could stand there if we really wanted. We went to Vinoteca for a lovely glass of prosecco instead. We returned to Polpo, were shown to our table, the restaurant was nice and buzzy and the menu looked great. We ordered a variety of dishes some of which were great (cuttlefish risotto) and some of which didn't live up to expectations (steak and white truffle cream – a large plate of rocket with a few slices of tough steak). The service throughout was pretty poor, we struggled to get attention and the staff were pretty brusque. The main problem was with the bill. When we eventually got hold of someone to ask we were brought the wrong bill, after another wait we were brought the right bill but with things on it we hadn't had. There was another wait as this was corrected (now 30 minutes from when we first asked). When we got the right bill I commented that we'd waited for half an hour for it, our waited then picked the bill and walked off with it. After another few minutes we asked what was going on and were told he'd taken it to his manager to remove the service. At this stage we would have paid service rather than having to wait further. 45 minutes after we requested our bill we were allowed to pay it with no apology for the issues that had arisen.
Food & Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Ellen F

10 September 2012  
Polpo is one of my favourite places to eat in London so I'm sad at the service bashing it's taken in some reviews. I don't know what others expect but on our recent visit we got menus given, questions answered, orders taken, drinks and food delivered and when I smiled they all smiled back. Yes, you have to wait for a table, but you know that already, and yes, food is sometimes plonked down, but they are delivering multiple plates to multiple tables so if they stopped for a chat at every opportunity you'd probably have cause to complain about slow service. I think the slightly rough edges are in keeping with the generally authentic, rustic, Venetian food and atmosphere. No danger of falling in a canal at the end of this meal though, which is lucky, because by the time you've drunk 2 hours worth of cocktails in the cosy downstairs bar waiting for a table and then tucked into the wine list you will probably be a bit wobbly on your feet. I have been for several dinners with friends (including a quiet one up at the bar), once on a second date (highly successful, we are now engaged) and most recently for Saturday lunch, at which my friend and I were seated immediately, hurrah! Being greedy we worked our way through a couple of dishes from most sections and whilst the meatballs were indeed good, it was trumped by the fried fish mix and, a meat-free unexpected highlight, the artichoke and tomato bruschetta. My only disappointment was the cuttlefish in black ink risotto because normally I'd give this 10 out of 10, travel miles for it, wait hours for it and trumpet it as simply the best dish in all of London but it lacked the usual al dente bite and saltiness so gets just 9 out of 10 this time. It all adds up and lunch for 2 (with couple of glasses of prosecco and coffees) came in at £66, not bad value for this quality of food but you could easily spend more in the evening. I'm not sure whether it is called Polpo after the signature octopus dish or because “polpoxo” ("fleshy") is what you'll become if you can't resist return visits.
Food & Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Elizabeth P

26 April 2012  
Not quite sure I understand all the negative comments on service here. It's loud and it's brash – but it's meant to be. Why come here if you want ‘smart service’? And surely everyone must see what incredible value it is. Where else in central London can you eat truly delicious food with a glass of wine for less than £40 for 2. The meatballs are always divine, the pizzetta perfect. My only complaint are the tumblers for the wine – but at least that encourages me to stick to house white and so keeps the cost down.
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Value

Elizabeth B

22 February 2012  
If it hadn't been for the company it would have been an appalling night out. I have never been moved to write a review online before but I am so sorry that our group spent our hard-earned money here. Having been to Da Polpo I'd raved to my friends about the place and thought Polpo would be more of the same. The food was delicious, credit to the chefs but I wish the chefs had served us. Standard of cooking doesn't matter one bit if the service makes you so unhappy that you feel actually robbed of your money when you come to pay (and it's not cheap). The poor chefs should understand what a disservice is being done to them by at best complacent and at worst downright rude front of house staff. The general atmosphere created was that the waiting staff looked at us as pieces of dirt on the floor who they had to waste their valuable time serving. I understand that a front of house job is tough with tiring, antisocial hours when you would prefer to be the customer rather than the waiter, however, it is a job. I have been a waitress before and would never think to not treat my customers the way we were treated. In fact even when they were rude to me I would maintain a helpful, happy demeanour. Usually the customer was shamed into apologising as a result. The front of house team (if you can call them a team) so ruined our Friday night that we certainly won't be going back and are on a mission to tell as many people as possible to vote with their feet. The final straw was them getting our coffee order wrong and when we mentioned it to the maitre d she glared at us and said, 'well, I didn't take your order.' I should have said, ‘Wrong answer!’ I concur with one of the other reviewers below in the opinion that the one redeeming feature was the cheery barman downstairs who was the antithesis of the restaurant staff and made the 3 hour wait for a table bearable. There are so many better restaurants in London. Don't go here.
Food & Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

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