Polpo Smithfield // Farringdon // London

Venetian Bárcaro bite-sized dining has obviously proved to be a great concept as there are now three Polpo restaurants dotted about town. A welcome addition too has been their Aperol inspired bars which serve-up decent strength (yet small) doses to keep you happy while you wait for a table in these reservation-free restaurants.

Though due to its success and narrow layout, Poplo Soho is not exactly the calmest place to eat – but then again, it’s not meant to be. It’s packed with friends having a great time, roaring their heads-off with laughter with a tumbler of wine in hand. So, it’s great news that you can now enjoy the same food at Polpo Smithfield in a more tranquil environment, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Polpo’s fairly static menu is still a winner. It’s made-up of simple things done with bags of flavour, so you can go back again and again. Going with a group of friends is the best plan of attack, as you’ll be able to take a wide selection of the small dishes and pick and choose what you want.

The bianca pizzette with olive oil, salt and thyme is crispy and tasty and the mackerel tartare with horseradish is refreshing and very well balanced.  The cod cheeks are perhaps something new to try – these broad bean sized melting gems sitting on a zingy bed of Puy lentils are a lovely little luxury. The chicken liver crostini and pork and fennel meats balls give your meal some real guts, while the lemony fennel almond and endive salad is a great invigorator.

For such a simple concept, Polpo’s food is really quite astonishing. It’s bound to give you and your friends a tasty night out – noisy or not.

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