Tag Archives: Polpo

Some more nice places to eat – Polpo (Soho) & Santa Maria Del Sur (Battersea)

1. Polpo, 41 Beak Street, Soho, W1F 9SB

Going to Polpo for Saturday lunch was one of the best ideas I’ve had lately. First, you can actually book a table – you can’t for supper hence several disappointments  – and secondly, it felt like a real treat from the Saturday day norm. I don’t know about you, but in the last few years, Saturday has turned into my slightly dull “admin” day. I get up early, do yoga, then bum around all day doing chores and generally waiting until Saturday night happens. I used to meet my friend Esmerelda for coffee or lunch but she was selfish enough to move to Australia so it’s been rather lacking of late. Sunday is my long-boozy-lunch followed by a film day, but until the weather is hot enough for cycle trips, Saturday has become a bit meh.

But Saturday daytime is a lovely time to see friends. I often meet my girlfriends for post-work dinners during the week but this isn’t ideal as we’re normally wired from our working week, a little stressed, and need to get home at a decent hour. Sundays are always under the shadow of Monday mornings and the Sunday blues. But on Saturday, you can have a 4-hour lunch and still fit in yoga before and parties afterwards, AND have a whole day to recover with the papers on Sunday.

So last Saturday, Tallulah and I went along to Polpo – the perfect place for a long leisurely catch-up lunch. And we didn’t just talk about boys. Erm.. Service is good but unintrusive, you can sit for hours. The wine is lovely and by the carafe – we had the light Poeta (£6 for 250ml and £12 for 500ml, we tried both for research purposes). The food is Italian tapas-style sharing plates which is always brilliant for sociability and ease of ordering. But Brits will always refuse to eat the last portion on each plate. They were delicious:

Arancini – these were new to me but little parcels of risotto – delicious

Calimari – tasty but a little dull?

Flank steak – the best plate for me – perfectly cooked juicy beef in peppery rocket and a lovely creamy truffle sauce

Cauliflower – delicious take on cauliflower cheese, my FAVOURITE SCHOOL DINNER EVER 

Polpette – delicious and tomatoey

All this grub, plus the wine (only downside – Saturday night got a bit blurry due to lunchtime vino drinking – beware)  and a coffee came to £28 each including tip which is brilliant – highly recommended for lazy weekend lunches or after-work dinners if you can get a table (or try Polpetto which serves similar food but where we got a table easily).

Polpo on Urbanspoon

2. Santa Maria Del Sur, 129 Queenstown Road, Battersea, SW8 3RH

Oh how I miss Argentina. The horses, the weather, the steaks, the Malbec – just not the same in London. After a crappy meal at the Pampa Grill on Battersea Rise, I was excited about going back to Santa Maria Del Sur. I’ve been before and raved about it (one of the best steaks in London I said! I have not been to Hawksmoor still!) but this time was following its win on Gordon Ramsey’s F Word for the UK’s best Americas restaurant (and you knew it – now impossible to get a table without booking well in advance) and after big-biceped manager Jose moved to the Moo Grill.  

The Chef and I were hungry and I was excited to see a really authentic menu – Fernet and Coke! Quilmes! – and our starter empanadas were just aaaamaaaazing. We then ordered the mixed grill which has 2 steaks – bife de chorizo (sirloin) and bife de lomo (fillet) as well as 2 sausages and some provolone cheese . Oh and some black pudding just in case you hadn’t got the meat sweats yet.

The steaks were excellent – really juicy and perfectly cooked. I’d go for the fillet steak which was perfect. The sausages and black pudding were good, but I could take or leave them, and the cheese although lovely was random. No necessito in my humble opinion. Decent Malbec (I ordered the Zuccardi because my friend Aileen fancies the owner’s son) but not amazing and I’d have loved to see some better names on the menu. Main disappointment? The sides were terrible. In Buenos Aires, the best meal I had was at La Cabrera where you got amazing steaks with delicious sides of mustardy things and salads and veggies. But at Santa Maria the sides were rubbish – a salad was some lettuce and tomatoes with not much else and the peppers were tastless, although the chips were good (I avoided – damn no carb diet). We finished up with a delicious flan with dulche de leche

All this food, with G&Ts to start and a bottle of Zuccardi Serie A (£27) came to £65 each which I think is a bit much for a local restaurant. The steaks were good and the but I’d have a fillet steak with chips next time and hope they’d improved their sides, with a cheaper bottle of wine. Still a lovely atmosphere for a date though, which explains why it was fairly heaving with couples.

Santa Maria Del Sur on Urbanspoon

Polpetto, 49 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 5BG

A bit of background in case you haven’t heard about this place. Polpetto (means “small octopus” in Italian) is the smaller, younger sister of Polpo (“octopus“) which opened in Soho to fantastic reviews. Little sister Polpetto is above the French House on Dean Street, a pub full of character and rammed to the rafters with squiffy media types, so named as it was home to the expat French resistance during the war (I love the French House – it gets a mention in my homage to Dean Street here). Both make Venetian bacaro food – shared small tapas-style plates (many of you will have eaten this in Venice. I went to Venice and ate in McDonalds, which is why you should never go to Venice as a skint student). Both have a no-reservations for dinner policy which is good for them but means I have tried and failed to eat at Polpo several times.

Relaxed, retro and romantic inside

However, Emmissima and I went to Polpetto at around 7pm last Friday and got a table straight away, a nice one by the window. In fact there were no groaning queues the entire time we were there. And it’s lovely inside – you wander up narrow wooden stairs past old framed photos to a small, intimate, dimly lit restaurant which could be in Brussels or Paris, filled with couples and friends. (Apparently it looks like a New York West Village resto too – am long overdue a trip). I was impressed that even though it was busy, you can take your time to eat, there’s no rush or hassle or table-turning nonsense that can ruin an evening out. So we ordered a bottle of Sangiovese (£16.50) – which you drink in cute little wine glasses – and went about ordering.

We started with polpetti (£3) and white bean crostino (£1)  – both delicious but tiny which was understandable if you consider the price. Then the flank steak with rocket and white truffle cream (£7) which was absolutely gorgeous – perfectly tender meat and the truffle cream was delicious. Decent sized portion too. And then a bit of a wierd one – I ordered cuttlefish in its ink (£7.50) because (a) I have never to my knowledge eaten cuttlefish nor (b) anything cooked in its own ink. This was a bit of a mistake – the cuttlefish was lovely but the ink was black and thick and gloopy and stained our tongues and lips and teeth. I also had flashbacks to ingesting half a fountain pen refill capsule at school and panicked a little bit. Probably a bit over-inky and in any event not something to order on date night. I’m still glad I tried it though. We finished with proscuitto and fig bruschetta (£7.50) which were again simple and delicious.

Polpetti

White bean crostino (lovely but order more than 1)

Bloody delicious flank steak with white truffle cream

Cuttlefish (nice) in ink gloop (stained entire mouth and still pulling out of teeth 3 hours later)

Delicious proscuitto and fig bruschetta

All in all it was £48 or £24 each for all this food and sharing a bottle of wine and we whiled away a nice relaxing two hours in the process. I will definitely be back to try more things in the menu – first on my list is the osso bucco with rissotto and the chilli prawns.

Polpetto on Urbanspoon