When in London I always make sure I set aside time for exploring some of the many restaurants that pop up on every corner. I can’t wait until I move down to the capital whenever that may be, and have all of these exciting and innovative haunts on my doorstep.
I am very lucky to have two groups of girls with whom I can experience these breakfast and lunch spots, the York girls now mostly settled in the big smoke, as well as my seven housemates from our time studying in Bath. We usually send a message round asking who’s free, and whoever can come does so and those who are busy wait for the next one! This weekend unfortunately there were only three representatives for our house, but this was probably for the best as booking a table for 8 on a Saturday lunchtime in central London may not be the easiest of tasks.
Naomi, involved in events management, found us a great little place to try in Covent Garden called Polpo. I was a tad late (not yet London Underground savvy!) and I had to fight through the crowds of Christmas shoppers dragging my suitcase along, ‘excuse me’-ing and ‘sorry’-ing away, generally causing quite a kafuffle. Despite thus arriving a little flustered, I instantly took a liking to the warm and friendly environment where the waitress helped me with my bag. The ambiance was a real mixture between a trendy New York bar with its shabby chic loft ambience, and ‘homemade’ with its authentic hearty cooking and the menu written before us on brown paper place mats. They got the balance just right and the place had that perfect ‘buzz’ that a successful restaurant should have: enough background noise to make you relax and to give it a bit of excitement, yet not so noisy that YOU HAVE TO SHOUT OVER THE MUSIC!
Looking around us, we observed that this was apparently the place to be for ‘ladies who lunch’. The term lady here used very broadly, with tables full of chattering girls ranging from us 22 year olds, to the young professionals next to us, the yummy mummies next and on the other side some more mature women having a sophisticated birthday treat. Ania observed that this was like a timeline of the future, hopefully growing up together and sharing our separate lives over wonderful lunches.
We took a pause from our nattering to do my least favourite task of deciding what to eat. I always want everything, don’t want to order the same as anyone else so as not to be boring, yet get serious food envy when I prefer the look of someone else’s. To avoid this, I shared with Ania. Naomi was set on her cod cheeks with lentils, a solid choice I must say (and she let me try so she gets extra brownie points!). The food is Venetian theme, with small sharing platters traditionally named ‘cicheti‘ and the meatballs are their speciality. We went for the Classic Beef and Pork variety which, as it’s name highlights, was the most traditional. The sauce was deliciously rich and slightly sweet and the meatballs were definitely… well… meaty! We also had Duck and green peppercorn pappardelle which was GREAT. Fresh pasta as you would expect in an Italian joint and a delicious sauce with a generous helping of duck and a slight kick as the peppercorn said it’s hello.
The portion sizes are on the small size, however the waitress informed us of this, the idea being to share a few- the Italian take on tapas! We got a side of Focaccia to solve any hunger issues which was lightly toasted allowing the golden unmistakable taste of olive oil to cut through the crunch. I must say I prefer focaccia to speak for itself without any fuss of toasting etc, but it was a nice appetiser!
Next time (and there definitely will be a next time) I will make sure we have time for dessert as tiramisu in a pot and intriguing nutella pizetta rather tickled my fancy!
After a quick goodbye, I raced back through the crowds so as not to miss my train (I never learn from my mistakes!) on which I reflected another wonderful weekend with the girls! Until next time chicas!
Tip: We visited the Polpo in Covent Garden (6 Maiden Lane), but this is only one of a small … dare I say it… chain. Check out the others at 41 Beak Street, Soho and 3 Cowcross Street, Smithfield.