Polpo

Price guide: Mid-range

41 Beak Street, London, W1F 9SB

Price guide: Mid-range

Roast pork belly (for sharing, mind)

By Jenni Muir, your London expert

I write for AA Travel Guides, Time Out. Read more
#81 of 115
expert-rated restaurants in London
Expert overall rating:3.6 out of 5
Food and drink:
3.8
3.8
Ambience:
3.6
3.6
Service:
3.8
3.8
Location:
4
4.0
Value for money:
4
4.0
Recommended for:
Couples, Culture vultures, Foodies, Singles, Nightlife, Trendiness

Expert review of Polpo

It’s all about the buzz at this casual London take on the Venetian bacaro.

Polpo looks like it’s been part of Soho life forever thanks to its slightly seedy, anti-design aesthetic. Studiously unpretentious and a hotspot for poseurs at the same time, it has been hyped by so many restaurant commentators that it’s become the kind of place you will either love passionately or feel very disappointed by. Note: they struggle to seat parties larger than four.

Food and drink: 

Simple rustic Italian food that’s a bit hit-and-miss but well done for the price. Sharing lots of small dishes is encouraged, though some such as linguine don’t work neatly for that purpose. We loved the spinach and egg pizzetta, and cuttlefish and squid ink risotto. Least good was braised lamb with farro, which was surprisingly thin on flavour because the ingredients didn’t taste as though they’d been allowed to get to know each other.

Ambience: 

Shabby chic with peeling paint and exposed brickwork. Super-noisy too. Punters are packed in like sarde, sitting elbow-to-elbow at most tables: it makes for an energetic buzz though you might feel you’re hearing too much of the next couple’s conversation at times. Don’t even think about bringing the kids.

Service: 

They lost our booking but handled that slip well and otherwise proved to be sweet, knowledgeable and efficient. Note that bookings are only taken for lunch.

Location: 

Just off Carnaby Street, so handy for Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus.

Price advice: 

Eating lightly or extravagantly is up to you: cicheti start at just £1 for anchovy and chickpea crostino, but rise to £12.60 for a plate of cold meats. Cooked sharing dishes of meat and fish are £5.30-£8.40, so allow £25-£35 per head for a filling meal with drinks.

Other useful branches: 

Polpetto, a tiny sibling with only 28 seats, sits above the French House pub in Soho – see website for details. In June another offshoot, da Polpo, is scheduled to open on Maiden Lane in newly hip Covent Garden.

More information on Polpo:

Price guide:
Mid-range
Type:
Restaurant, Tapas bar
Food:
Italian, Tapas
Address:
41 Beak Street, London, W1F 9SB
Telephone:
020 7734 4479
Website:
http://www.polpo.co.uk
Serves:
Lunch, Dinner
Opening times:
Mon-Sat noon-3pm, 5.30-11pm; Sun noon-4pm.
Accepts Credit Cards:
Yes
Reservations:
Not possible

Have you been to Polpo? Would you recommended it?