Polpo

Address: 41 Beak Street, London, W1F 9SB, United Kingdom
Telephone: 020 7734 4479

- Mid-range

3.6

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
3.8
90%
Service
3.8
90%
Food and drink
3.8
90%
Value for money
4
90%
Ambience
3.6
90%
Location
4
90%

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.

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.

Recommended for

  • Couples
  • Culture vultures
  • Foodies
  • Singles
  • Nightlife
  • Trendiness

Details