I have been sampling the life of a London foodie of late, alongside me food blogger friend Caviar Girl. With an undeniable passion for food and new experiences there was no way I could shy away when she told me about her new endeavor over a Hot Pot dinner in China Town - a meal that has become somewhat a ritual for the two of us at the quaint Beijing Dumpling restaurant.
And so, the gastronomic journey around London began. First stop, Thai in Kensington, followed by tiki style cocktails in Notting Hill. We talked about the food and I sat and listened to Caviar Girl's accounts of the culinary delights she experienced on her travels to Moscow, France and Copenhagen.
More recently we decided to jump on the bandwagon with all other London foodies and take a long lunch on a Monday bank holiday at the brother of the most talked about restaurant on Urban Spoon (Spuntino). The Venetian wine bar Polpo did not disappoint.
The menu consists of small plates designed to share so the three of us chose a variety, determined to try the full spread. We started with a selection of Cicheti (bite sized starters) consisting of arancini, potato and parmesan crocchetta and artichoke wrapped in prosciutto. Our portion consisted of one of each, leaving us with modest bites of the three. I most definitely could have passed on the artichoke, but the arancini were perfect; cheesy, gooey on the inside, flavorsome and crunchy at the first bite.
One of the highlights of the meal came out next, broad bean and ricotta bruschetta. It was delicious and the flavours melded well together. The bread was crunchy, and the flavour of the mint and beans was fresh and strong when accompanied by the mild ricotta.
With starters essentially out of the way, we welcomed the heavier dishes to the already cluttered table. At this stage of the meal I could have seen the service improve, when our (very cute) waiter failed to take the used dishes away. Lucky the dirty dishes didn't bother us too much as we had a 4 person table for the 3 of us.
We went for the braised lamb with farro, which was full of striking flavours. The farro was perfectly cooked but the dish left nothing to be desired with tough and chewy meat. The prawn risotto was a good choice, seasoned with saffron cooked to the texture of paella. It complimented the meal, fitting with the style and flavors of the other elements we had enjoyed. The scallops cooked with peas and pancetta had so much potential, but alas let us down. The broth was thin and watery and took away from the delicious scallops which were actually lovely, fresh and smooth.
The pièce de résistance; a dish where none of us knew what to expect, blew us away. The 'midnight' cuttlefish gnocchi in squid ink with gremolata... it just sounds adventurous! The gnocchi was shaped in small unidentifiable bites, the cuttlefish was fresh and melted in your mouth. The gremolata added a subtly citrus zing which complimented the fish.
So full by this point, we were unsure as to whether or not to go on... but next was desert...! The flourless orange cake served with mascarpone was to die for. And yes I am aware that is a strong statement, especially to come from someone with such a ravishing sweet tooth. All I can say is you must try it for yourself.
The afternoon rolled to early evening and after three hours of eating we were more than satisfied. Looking around the room we examined what sat on other people's tables. Being the one person who will always have food envy I decided the table next to us ordered very well with the pork dish, calf livers, clam linguini and polenta. All are on the list to try next time. We finally ended the afternoon with coffees and a chat with our friendly and flirty waiter about the other restaurants in the family.
So until the next invitation from the queen bee foodie, I look forward for another afternoon with good friends and excessive amounts of good food.
*images taken from Caviar Girl, follow her blog. It's delicious.