Test of Time - we make a return visit to Polpetto

squidChargrilled squid with bitter leaves - puntarelle, radicchio Treviso and a balsamic dressing (£9.50) -  from the sharing plates part of the menu.

Why return to Polpetto now?

Well, although the restaurant itself has been around for eight years - four years in its current spot on Berwick Street - it's just announced a new chef, menu and makeover. So we thought it was time to pop back and check it out.

Where exactly is it?

On the market section of Berwick Street, between Broadwick and Peter Streets. The nearest tube station is Piccadilly Circus.

Where should we meet friends for a drink first?

You're not short of places here in Soho. You could pop across the road to Duck & Rice for a craft beer. The Blue Posts at the end of the road is an old school Soho boozer and Basement Sate is a few minutes away for cocktails. But - we do love the aperitivo bar here with its foldaway seats. You could happily wait for your friends to arrive with a Negroni or Aperol Spritz and a bowl of chickpea puffs (£4) or Anchovy butter crostino (£2.50).

boothTucked in - our booth in the new look Polpetto. 

And where should we sit?

We reckon we had the best table - a booth set into the wall on the left-hand side with room for 4 easily (and more if you squish up a bit). But they've really opened the top dining room out here and there were plenty of nice open booths for two or four along the right-hand side. Downstairs they've opened up the kitchen a bit more now, so if you take over the PDR you get a better view into what's going on.

So what's on the menu?

New chef Anthea Stephenson comes here via the River Cafe and The Jugged Hare. She's brought in new suppliers like the 2018 OFM Award-winning Farmison & Co for meat & game, Elias for fish & seafood and Vallebona for Italian cheeses. The menu's split into a lot of smaller plates for sharing and one big feasting dish.

Here's what we had:

pumpkinPerfectly pitched Autumnal dish of roast pumpkin with toasted wet walnuts, sheep ricotta and Treviso (£8). 

pappardelleWe also had a dish of gnocchi with Tuscan sausage and sage from the pasta section, but this fresh hand-cut fettuccine with girolles and thyme just edged ahead (£9).

chopThe main event - this was the Venetian rib chop with bone marrow. It's a dish for three to share (although you could easily feed four with it, particularly if you'd had some sharing plates beforehand) and comes with bowls of borlotti, cicoria and the most amazing polenta (£70).

pannacottaA similarly sized glass of Buffalo ricotta and Sicilian honey ice-cream disappeared too quick to photograph, but this saffron pannacotta - with three spoons to share - was the perfect end to a blow-out meal (£6.50).

What about vegetarians?

Although the main feasting dish wouldn't have worked - there was plenty of choice elsewhere on the menu from the charred romanesco with salsa rosso (£7) to larger dishes like the crushed celeriac with coco blanc bruschetta with porcini and thyme (£13).

burrataBurrata with braised leek and the most incredible rosemary salmoriglio dressing (£9).

And to drink?

Also new to Polpetto is the wine list which now champions biodynamic, low-intervention and natural wines and has them working with Natural Born Wines and Tutto Wines. A glass of the Polpo Veneto white starts at just £5.50, but there's also a changing Wines of the Week section which heads up into the £60 a bottle territory.

Overall thoughts

Sitting in this lively restaurant in Soho on a Saturday evening, still buzzing from hours spent on the People's March, suddenly all was well with the world. Our dinner here reminded one of our companions of one of the best holiday meals she'd ever had - a long, leisurely lunch in Umbria. This was food meant to be shared and enjoyed over great conversation and interesting wine. I think we held up our end of the deal.

Hot Dinners were invited to Polpetto. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 


More about Polpetto

Where is it? 11 Berwick St, Soho, W1F 0PL

How to book: book online

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @polpettow1


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