It’s little wonder Polpo IV’s starting to look like a chain restaurant, presenting fans with a creeping sense of déjà vu. Here (again) are the tin ceiling tiles, the filament light bulbs, the zinc bar tops, even the staff with heavy tattoos. Polpo Soho is simply more of the same.
Polpo’s kitchen here is still on form though. The meatball section has been beefed up, and our pork and fennel version was moist and well spiced, served in a rich and flavour-packed tomato sauce. Heritage tomatoes were superior to the usual pallid varieties we get in the UK, partly helped by a dressing which seemed to intensify their ripe, summery flavour.
Ingredient quality was good, such as a fresh mozzarella ball, served on a base of peeled broad beans and pea shoots. A ‘white pizza’ (no tomato) topped with anchovy had appealingly chewy dough, crisp in places. The only miss was the grilled focaccia. Placing thick bread on a hot grill doesn’t toast it, it merely brands it with tramlines – which although they look interesting when it’s served, don’t do anything for the flavour or texture of the focaccia.
The differences to the other Polpos are subtle. This one has a larger bar than its counterparts. But like the others, this has a no-reservations policy for dinner: very convenient for the restaurateur, but much less helpful for the diner.