You may think that I like to harp on about Russell Norman and his range (yes I can say range now) of London eating establishments. Well, that’s because I do. Already a fan of Polpo, Spuntino and Polpetto, I was quick to try his newest venture.
At first I Da Polpo was a joke – I read on Twitter that this is what the fourth restaurant from Russell Norman would be called. I couldn’t quite believe that he’d open another restaurant and just put a ‘Da’ in front of an already existing restaurant name. But he did and I don’t mind because as far as I am concerned, he could have called it whatever he wanted and I wouldn’t give a monkeys because I don’t go for the name, I go for the bloomin delicious grub.
I met a friend one evening after work in the first week of opening and I’m pleased to say that I walked in and sat straight down. Probably because it was in the first week of opening but another reason is that Da Polpo is a lot bigger than its predecessors. Set over two floors, the restaurant seats 70 and has a bar seating area on both floors, perfect for those casual small plates and carafe dinners.
So, the food. I would be lying if I said that the menu was very different to Polpo and Polpetto because it isn’t. The only real difference is that there are expanded meatball and pizetta sections. Great. Really great. While we were pondering the menu, the waitress brought over a complimentary dish of whipped ricotta, black sesame seeds and focaccia, which was a very welcome addition. I would have prefered my bread to be slightly toasted but nevertheless I still wolfed it down.
We went on to choose the rest of our dishes for the evening and had one from nearly every section. First up was the anchovy and olive pizzetta. I couldnt fault this at all. The perfect ratio of cheese, anchovies and crust thickness. The olives added a lot. I’m not sure what variety they were but were definitely creamy.
We had to go for one of the meatball dishes so chose the classic pork and beef. Three large meatballs arrived in lashings of delicious slow cooked tomato sauce. The meatballs were juicy, tender, melt in mouth and were gone very quickly.
Next up was grilled asparagus with buttered eggs and parmesan – basically scrambled eggs with asparagus and parmesan. I found this dish interesting as I had never considered scrambling eggs and eating them with asparagus before. I have dipped a spear into a soft boiled egg but that’s as far as I have gone. Nevertheless, I loved it. The parmesan was just the icing on the cake. Despite the main ingredient being a vegetable, this isn’t a healthy dish!
We also enjoyed a courgette salad with rocket and yet more cheese. We both felt that the courgette didn’t have a lot of taste but the texture more than made up for it. Not quite raw, it had a great crunch to it.
Although the table next to us seemed to be enjoying their desserts very much, including one scoop of gelato in a lovely looking cone, we decided to pay up and retreat to Gelupo to see what fantastical flavours were in store that evening.
I am in awe of Russell Norman. He has created something very special here in London and I would be happy if one of these restaurants opened on every street corner. Each one has managed to retain its own character and I would go to each one for different occasions. The food is spot on. Simple, fresh ingredients cooked perfectly. Massive thumbs up from me.
6 Maiden Lane
020 7836 8448
Dinner for two with a 50cl carafe of wine came to £40, service included.
Da Polpo only takes lunch bookings.
I’m also a massive fan of Russell Norman – he’s managed to roll out four wonderful restaurants in half as many years without any of them suffering from being part of an expanded empire. I haven’t made it to Da Polpo yet but was so jealous of everyone else’s reviews I decided to make my own pizzette and meatballs! (post here http://bit.ly/ipK2Td)
This review makes me even more determined to get down there soon though – and nice to see you tried a couple of dishes other bloggers don’t seem to have picked up on – the scrambled eggs and asparagus looks awesome!