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December 26th, 2010

POLPO (Soho)

Category: Bistro (££)yellow traffic5 150x150 POLPO (Soho)

Polpo is the first restaurant which, since I have started this blog, needs to be marked down because of its toilet. I have never seen a toilet that disgusting in a place that is not a boys only student flat share. I will describe all the ghastly details later, but before you completely lose your appetite I shall talk about the food first.

Polpo serves tapas-style Italian and this is just such a great idea. Nothing is above 10 pounds and the idea is to order loads of small dishes and share. This is paradise for someone like me who needs to try everything. Not only most food bloggers love this place and I thought the food was decent and the atmosphere was very pleasant. While drinking the cheap and nice enough house red, plates of delicious looking food were carried past us. The staff was lovely and efficient and we got a big bottle of tab water ( I just learn to appreciate this more and more).

We started our meal by trying a few of the crostini. We wanted one of each but the waiter pointed out that they were very small and we ended up ordering two of each. In the end they were not that small after all and we wasted already half of our appetite on bread which was a shame really.

The best probably was the salmon, dill and horseradish crostini (2 each). The anchovy and chickpea crostini (1 each) was interesting and not unpleasant at all. The least successful were the chicken liver crostini (1.5 each). I love the Italian chicken liver pate usually, but this one was under-seasoned and bland. Even though I would have wanted the bread to be a bit thinner, this is a really nice snack with a glass of wine.
 POLPO (Soho)

Spinach, parmesan and soft egg pizetta (5.5)  was enjoyable but did not rock my world. I would not necessarily order it again, although I rather enjoyed the crisp dough and the well seasoned spinach.
 POLPO (Soho)
An absolute winner was the beetroot with rocket and walnut pesto (5). The sweetness of the beetroot, the bitterness of the rocket and the small pieces of walnuts were such a delicious combination that we regretted at this point that we were sharing…
 POLPO (Soho)

We all enjoyed the Mackerel Tartare with Horseradish (6). The mackerel tasted almost like ceviche, marinated in lemon juice until cooked through the acid. The horseradish was a bit too creamy for my taste, but nevertheless a lovely dish.
 POLPO (Soho)
Strozzapreti with duck ragu were very nice too. The pasta which was obviously home-made was cooked exactly the way I like it, perfectly al dente and the ragu was well balanced. I would actually quite liked to have some parmesan with it, but we did not get any offered and when the waiter came past next we had already finished. One criticism however – the dish was lukewarm when it was served. How good would it have been actually hot!

 POLPO (Soho)

I love the fact that Polpo serves some small desserts. We tried the ricotta and chocolate crumble (2.50) – two pieces of cake just enough to satisfy our urge for something sweet after dinner. Unfortunately however the cake was disappointing. Too dry and you could neither taste the chocolate nor the ricotta very much. More successful was the Sgroppino (4.5) .

 POLPO (Soho)

Nice place, nice (although not amazing) food and then the toilet. I should have made a picture, but I was so shocked, so please forgive me the lack of photographic evidence.

No toilet paper in any of the two cubicles. On the toilet seat were several spots of dried-up urine and on the floor were stains that might have been crusted remnants of vomitus. The wash basin looked like it had not been cleaned for weeks. Stains and dust and dirty glasses everywhere. This is the state of a toilet you would expect in a student nightclub at 6 in the morning, not at a fancy restaurant at 6 in the evening. I usually don’t bother too much about toilets, but this was too much and reduced my otherwise pleasant experience at Polpo.

  • Food: 6/10
  • Atmosphere: 8/10 (restaurant) -100/10 (lavatory)
  • Service: 7/10
  • Value for money: 7/10
  • Chances of returning: 10%
  • Verdict: I am really wondering whether you can draw conclusions from the state of the toilet to the state of the kitchen?

biglink POLPO (Soho)

9 comments to POLPO (Soho)

  • Ino

    Oh no. What a shame – put a lot of effort into making nice food (even if it didn’t excite you that much, it looks at least decent!) and then go and ruin it all by not cleaning the toilet. It would really put me off too. I wonder if other people who’ve been to Polpo have had the same experience…

  • Such a shame you had a bad experience at Polpo – I go there regularly and have never had less than exemplary food and service (and clean toilets!)The sister restaurant Polpetto however I wasn’t too keen on in terms of a couple of disappointing dishes and service.

  • Ute

    @Ino – I wonder the same, possibly I was really unlucky (I hope for Polpo that I was…). But as you say – it’s really off-putting and such a shame for an otherwise nice place.

    @Ephemerette – I had read so many good things about Polpo, so I was really a bit disappointed by the actual experience. Considering you have been there a lot and always liked it, I should really give it another try. Haven’t been to Polpetto yet but opinions seem to be a bit divided about this place. It is on my to do list though…

  • Eeks! I can’t say I was a fan of the food when I went but I’m not sure how to feel about not going to the toilets then…. (ignorance, bliss, something like that?).

  • London Chow

    Something just have to spoil it doesn’t it? Haven’t been to Polpo before but are the loos common to males and females? Umm, guys aren’t exactly neat when it comes to that but it’s no excuse really. Will give it a go when I’m in Soho. The pasta does look fabulous!

  • [...] out independently of Brawn anyway. Like Terroirs and also some other recently opened places such as Polpo, Brawn‘s concept is the sharing of small [...]

  • [...] Thanks for visiting! UteCategory: Bistro Da Polpo in Covent Garden is the newest addition to the Polpo, Polpetto and Spuntino family of small/sharing plate eateries founded by the restaurateur Russell [...]

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