Polpo is one of those restaurants that I'd heard about and walked past numerous times, but never quite made it to. It was partly because it always looked packed (I'm talking about the one in Soho), and also because these kinds of Tapas-style places tend to end up being quite pricey if you're in hangry mode.
When I read on the grapevine that they were opening a branch in Notting Hill, and that their soft launch weekend meant 50% off food, I rang them up for a lunch reservation quicker than you can say meatballs.
When we arrived, we were taken to a table at the back, where it was cosy but quite dark. I mumbled something to E about it looking like nighttime, which he read (correctly) as "i can't take good foodie photos in this light!!", so he asked for us to sit by the window (it was also a very sunny day so I wanted to enjoy it) and they obliged very nicely. So, brownie point to them.
The place has a very relaxed, rustic feel, with the menu written on the paper place mats.
We went to town with the food - in order of appearance: crostini with salami butter & broad beans, Arancini (fried risotto balls), classic meatballs, fritto misto (fried mixed seafood), rocket and courgette parmesan salad, prawn & artichoke linguine, taleggio and speck pizzette.
Everything was fantastic. Not too fancy but not too basic, and the portions were surprisingly generous. There was a bit of a gap in the service, but obviously this is why they were discounting the bills for the opening weekend, while they iron out the glitches. We didn't mind as we chatted away - and we definitely didn't mind when we were given another one of those delicious pizzas free of charge (because a waiter made a mistake but wanted us to cover for him and pretend it was our first one! he was lovely)!
Even though we were both pretty full, we couldn't say no to their Nutella pizzette. I mean, we're not crazy.
It was as good as it looks.
We both agreed that we would definitely be happy to go back to Polpo, even without the 50% off. The bill came to 35 pounds including service and a 250ml carafe of wine, so normally it wouldn't be the most budget friendly place, but for a special occasion we would jump on it.
Now added on my to try ASAP list - Spuntino and Mishkin's, both by the team behind Polpo. Sometimes the hype is worth listening to!