What a wonderful night it was in London. What better way to spend my evening than at one of Russell Norman's newest ventures; Polpetto. This restaurant like Polpo operates with a similar concept of the Venetian bacaro. The plates are quite small which allows for a lot of experimentation and sharing.
Please note that Russell has continued his policy of no-reservations for dinner so beware of long lines. Fortunately, I was eating alone so I could get a spot quickly. The restaurant is located in central Soho down the road from Yautcha on Berwick Street. I entered and sat at a small table where I was served a glass of water before being directed to a spot at the bar.
The restaurant is very dim and the ceilings are noticeably low. You can see all the cracks in the wall and the little imperfections in the furniture. The ambience here was crying out authentic-grunge which I quite liked. Even the crowds made you feel like you were in the 'in' place; a few artists, hipsters and intellectuals here and there.
I stared at the menu for quite a while and decided upon three dishes. The clams with linguine came first. This dish had a very simple beauty in its presentation and that manifested in its flavour. There was this oily broth had the perfect balance between saltiness and acidity as the flavour continuously buffered between these extremes. The clams were also delicious and were nicely infused with the essence of the peppers. This was a thoroughly enjoyable light dish.
Next thing that came up were the mussels. This was the first time I ate mussels fried; I'm so used to picking them from their shells. I kept on thinking "where's the tartare sauce?!" and then I realised that the baby tomatoes did the job of of providing the necessary citrusness. The dish was a really a nice teaser for what came next.
The pork belly with artichoke followed suit. This was amazing. First, it looked absolutely brilliant. Second, it made my tongue rejoice. Surprisingly, the pork belly wasn't the main star of the show; for me, it was the artichoke purée! It exhibited this mild sweetness and smokiness that I couldn't get enough of! It did the job of enhancing the meat it sat next to. The pork was good but I thought it was quite dry. I guess the parsley sauce at the bottom of the plate gave the pork belly the moisture it needed. Also, the artichoke crisps added some crunch to the dish which is always excellent. Overall, the dish won me over with its sophistication of flavour and variance in texture. Bravo!
I finished my meal with the chocolate flan. No surprise, the flan was very rich and and had great depth in flavour thanks to the dark chocolate. The cool crème fraîche did a good job of offering some occasional relief from the overwhelming chocolaty goodness. I was told to try the maple tart but I didn't. Comment below to tell me how it was if you tried it!
So guys.... COME TO POLPETTO. It really is that simple. The chefs here have an eye for flavour combinations and aesthetic which I always admire. Let's not forget the distinct atmosphere which only enhances one's experiences with great food. The service is excellent as well; I had quite the lengthy chat with one of the waitresses which is always great.