Polpo Beak Street: where the story began 

My plan for the weekend involved the couch, my pj’s, and a delivery from tesco filled with bad food I shouldn’t eat, to be consumed while watching bad tv. Mr Gosling however had other plans, so on Saturday morning we set off for Regent’s Park and the boating lake to complete number 31 on his birthday list. We were lucky it was a beautiful day and after a quick spin round the pond we set off for Soho and lunch. 

After much pondering (and a realisation I need a more organised hit list of where I want to eat), we wandered down Beak Street and found ourselves outside the original Polpo. 

It was busy as always despite it being the end of lunch service but we were seated quickly within 10 minutes. A word of warning. If you don’t like enclosed spaces Polpo might not be for you. The tables are very close together, but that’s part of what gives it a buzzy atmosphere.

Based on a Venetian baraco, a restaurant serving simple food, the menu is made up of small sharing plates, with three per person recommended.

We went for the special pizzette of mushroom, pancetta and  sausage. 

This was really good, the pizzette itself was super thin and crispy the mushrooms gave a huge meaty flavour, and the sausage was excellent. 

Meatballs are something of a Polpo speciality and of the five on offer we went for the pork and fennel. The flavours were well married and the fennel didn’t overwhelm. For me, they could have been served a little warmer and the tomato sauce was just too sweet.

The grilled focaccia was chewy and excellent, a huge portion.

We started with aranci, I think I forget them because they were so unremarkable.

The salad of baby gem, mint, peas, goats cheese and radish was simple, fresh and tasty. The same sadly cannot be said for the scallops, braised and served with peas and pancetta (this features heavily on the menu) and baby gem. 

I have never had a braised scallop before and based on this probably won’t again. Three scallops or rather three half scallops sat in a decent enough stock but the scallops themselves tasted of nothing, literally nothing. This plate made me sad and at £9 it made me doubly sad.

Not all was bad and up next was my hero dish, fresh parpadelle with rabbit and pancetta ragu. This was a delicious bowl of comfort that I’d gladly eat on this wet Monday morning. The pasta was beautiful and glossy, there was a generous portion of rabbit. I’d happily order this alone with some bread and glass of red. 

Overall it was good but not great and once I work on that list I’ll be less likely to fall back on ‘safe’ options, unless it’s cold and wet and I want rabbit parpadelle. 

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