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Hands up if you haven’t heard of Polpo. Didn’t think so. This wildly successful group played a starring role in popularising small plates when it opened in 2009, inspired by Venetian cooking. Now it has six branches and three offshoots under different names. Tom Oldroyd was a chef-director at Polpo from the beginning. When he opens the first restaurant under his own banner, you know it’s probably going to be worth a visit. Now that I’ve been there, I would say it’s worth two visits so you (and a couple of pals) can eat everything on the brief menu. The menu isn’t the only diminutive object at Oldroyd, which is located a couple of minutes away from Camden Passage market. It’s a dinky place (40 covers), with space downstairs for just a few tables and a kitchen that’s smaller than many a domestic kitchen. If you’ve eaten at Polpo, you won’t be surprised by the high-impact flavourings and combinations. But here the menu draws on France and Spain as well as Italy. A lively take on panzanella (Tuscan bread salad) brought fresh curd, broad beans and a perfect peach into the picture. And more conventional dishes were no less dazzling. Radishes with smoked cod’s roe made a stunning nibble (£4). Best of all was deeply flavourful paella of squid, rabbit and broad beans, at £11 the most expensive dish we ate. Wine prices on the (dinky) wine list start at £22. Cheese is the priciest pud, at £7. The brunch menu ranges from £7 to £9, and heavenly iced tea is £3 per glass – plus a top
Venue says: “Oldroyd offers a daily-changing European menu built around the best seasonal British ingredients.”