Polpo, a Venetian style bacaro, occupies the ground floor and basement of an early 18th century building in Beak Street, Carnaby, once home to the painter Canaletto, perhaps the best known and most prolific visual chronicler of Venice.
The menu consists of cicheti and small plates and takes its inspiration from the osterie and dintorni of Venice. The wine list reflects the region too with almost all the wines on offer coming from northern Italy, some from tiny producers.
This is Russell Norman’s first independent venture. Previously Operations Director for Caprice Holdings, Russell looked after some of London’s iconic restaurants including The Ivy, J Sheekey and Scott’s and previously has been general manager at Zuma and Circus.
Polpo’s head chef is Tom Oldroyd, previously at Alastair Little and Bocca di Lupo, and has worked closely with Russell to create a menu of simple and authentic small plates and cicheti (small dishes served in a bacaro, much like tapas in Spain or meze in Greece.).
Taste delicious classics such as fritto misto; Polpette and Octopus Salad will sit side-by-side with some of Tom’s own dishes, like Pork Belly with Radicchio and Hazelnuts; Slow Roast Duck with Green Peppercorns, Black Olives and Tomatoes; Cuttlefish in its ink, gremolata; and Calf’s Liver with Onions and Sage.
Polpo seats 65 in the ground-floor restaurant, including the rustic zinc bar at the front of the restaurant with a fantastic view of the open kitchen. Exposed brickwork, an imported tin ceiling and ancient carbon filament light bulbs complete the feeling of old-world charm. Along with a private dining room seating up to 25 people, Polpo even has its own hidden court yard, or, as Venetians would say, corta sconta.
Since launching, Polpo comes highly recommended by some of the most acclaimed restaurant critics.
'It is inspiring when done this well’ Daily Telegraph
‘This one’s a winner for sure.’ Evening Standard
‘Polpo is the hottest table in town.’ Metro