Test Drives

Polpo private dining roomOne of the most interesting developments we’re seeing in the London restaurant scene right now, is the increase in restaurants coming up with innovative ways to get the punters in, particularly on quieter days of the week.

This rise in food and wine-pairing evenings, tutored wine tastings, special menus with lectures serve a number of functions. They give Londoners a chance to chat and connect over food in a new way and also provide a cheaper way to try dishes and wines we might not normally go for.

With that sort of pioneering spirit in mind, Hot Dinners accepted an invitation to test-drive the first EnoClub night at Polpo in Soho. Run in conjunction with Wine Chap, these evenings are billed as a way to learn about fine Italian wines – and it certainly helps that the fantastic wines we tried were matched by a series of superb cicheti from Polpo’s Head Chef Tom Oldroyd.

Our evening kicked off with a quick glass of Prosecco after which we took our seats around the table in Polpo’s basement private dining-room (we hadn’t realised there even was one before this).  Wine Chap’s Tom Harrow proved to be an excellent guide as he took us through a series of wines, beginning with the lighter whites and finishing up with a fantastic sweet wine – a Passito Bianco La Giaretta. Over the evening, we enjoyed trying some wines which would normally fetch ‘upwards of £75 in restaurants, if you could find them’ including a Venetian Malvasia (also found on the wine list at Locanda Locatelli) and a Gewurztraminer from Horstatter which divided the table in those who loathed or loved it - we thought it was gorgeous.

Accompanying the wines were a series of plates from the Polpo menu – memorably good was the chopped chicken liver and our favourite dish at Polpo – the Pork belly with radicchio and hazelnuts. Polpo owner Russell Norman popped his head in to check things were going well – and they really were.

This was an excellent way to pass an evening, with great food and wine, good company. Best still, the following day we left with an - admittedly-hazy - recollection of some of the Wine Chap’s words of wisdom (eg; If the layer of condensation on your recently poured glass of white wine goes an inch or two above the wine level, then it’s too cold).  At £35 a head for food and wine – we reckon it’s a bargain, not to mention a way of securing an evening table at Polpo, given their no-bookings policy.

To find out when the next Polpo EnoClub will be, go to Hot Dinners restaurant events section.

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