“Life is a combination of magic and pasta” – Federico Fellini
And food at Polpo, the cornerstone of Russel Norman’s restaurant empire, is the perfect combination of both.
Unfortunately, that’s not a very well kept secret, and if you combine this with the fact that Polpo is a strictly-no-booking sort of place, getting a table can be a bit of a nightmare.
Located right on Cambridge Circus (aka THE spot for any pre-/post-theatre dinner), Polpo at The Ape & Bird is no exception, but the restaurant itself being quite big, it is still the least stupidly busy of the lot.
With shabby walls and worn-just-the-right-way furniture, the place itself is the perfect hybrid of a gastropub and a hipster den, and consequently an absolute Instagram dream.
But the food, the food is what everybody comes back for.
The menu focuses on Italian-influenced sharing plates, with a wide selection of both signature and seasonal dishes.
From the Cicheti section, we couldn’t resist the Arancini (and neither should you!)
Breaded, golden-fried balls of risotto goodness, those are simply too good not to get!
Followed by Polpo’s signature dish: Pork & fennel meatballs in tomato sauce.
A homely take on the humble meatball, with heaps of fennel seeds and a super silky, slightly spicy tomato sauce.
Italian comfort food at its very best!
If you’re as much of a carb lover as I am, the Pizzetta, cooked on site in a wood-fire oven, will definitely catch your eyes.
There are a few option to choose from, including this Spinach, parmesan & soft egg one.
Which obviously, I couldn’t pass off.
Just look at that ‘runny egg yolk’ excited face of mine!
If I’m being honest though, this is nowhere near the best pizza in London (which is to be found either here or there).
The dough wasn’t quite ‘dough-y’ enough for Polpo to have any claim on that trophy, but the topping combination was really tasty, if only a bit un-seasoned.
The carb-party continued on with a plate of Crab & chilli linguine.
Thin, silky ribbons of pasta, smothered in the most delightfully buttery sauce, and plenty of big chunks of fresh crab meat.
The sort of dish you’ll never forgetti.
And yet more carbs (see the recurring theme here?): Fried gnocchi, rainbow chard pesto & young pecorino
A beautifully vibrant way to highlight those soft & crunchy little pillows of potato joy!
And for dessert, all the classics.
Pannacotta with strawberry and basil.
And, of course, Tiramisu.
Words can’t quite espresso how good that tiramisu is! So you’ll just have to go and check it out for yourself!
Polpo at The Ape and Bird, 142 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8HJ
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