Lots to like at da Polpo
da Polpo on Maiden Lane is part of the “Polpo” group, so follows the group whip of no reservations (at least not for dinner). We had the chance to sample the food before heading off to the theatre a few days ago. Arriving early (around 5:30pm) meant we avoided the dreaded queue for a table and we were offered bench space immediately.
Provided with a carafe of water we made our selection from the menu. A group of three, we decided to order several dishes to share. We kept our drinking choices simple, a glass of prosecco for me, a white wine (I forget which) for J and F stayed with water.
First to arrive were the potato and parmesan crocchetta (having ordered a single portion and receiving just one we upped our order to three portions), spinach, parmesan & soft egg pizzette and fennel salami & goat’s cheese calzone, closely followed by the cauliflower, leek & fontina gratin. We were struck by the enormous portion sizes, far bigger than we were expecting and which led to our undoing… ;-) The spinach, parmesan & soft egg pizzette was covered in spinach with a nicely poached egg on top and was just delicious, though a little too much spinach for J. The fennel salami & goat’s cheese calzone was served with a side of green leaves and was just full of flavour. The calzone was huge and the mix of fennel salami and goat’s cheese is a match made in heaven – probably my favourite dish of our meal. I can never get excited about crocchetta – these were tasty enough but they are never going to make me go weak at the knees! The gratin was fine, the cauliflower still nice and crunchy and a good cheesy flavour, but we were already concerned about leaving room for the dishes to follow.
And follow they did – classic beef & pork meatballs, pork belly, radicchio & hazelnuts and roast potatoes & rosemary. The meatballs were covered in a tomato sauce, much to F’s annoyance so she gave them a miss. They were tasty with a hint of spice, though I would probably have also preferred them without the sauce. The pork belly dish contained three large slices of pork belly and was delicious. We all commented that it was such a generous serving – a main course dish at a starter price in many establishments. The roast potatoes were a little too floury for our liking (a fault of the base product rather than the cooking) and F would have liked them to be served dressed in oil.
We certainly had an unexpected feast at da Polpo. When they get the dishes right they are fabulous (calzone, pizzette, pork belly) but there are one or two that we probably wouldn’t order again. Service was friendly and efficient and a bill of £22 a head was extremely reasonable for the quantity and quality. I certainly want to return as there are many more dishes on the menu I would like to try.