Bloomberg, 5 October
The chef is Tom Oldroyd, formerly at Bocca di Lupo. Polpo joins that Italian eatery and the French venue Terroirs in offering a winning mix of interesting and modestly priced wines with food that's delicious. You can start with simple snacks such as the croquettes and arancini (fried rice balls with cheese), then maybe a plate of fig, prosciutto and mint. The chopped chicken liver (1.20 pounds) is my favorite single dish, though the wild-mushroom flatbread (piadina) comes close. Another winner is the mackerel tartare with cucumber and horseradish with carta di musica — paper-thin crispbread. The meat balls (Polpette) are made with pork and beef and are served in a rich tomato sauce. The bigoli pasta with anchovies is made before your eyes. (About £20-30 per head, plus wine. Rating: 3/4).
Polpo - review in full>>
Metro, 7 October
Marina O'Loughlin agrees that Polpo is already a slick operation, but questions its Italian authenticity
The exterior looks artless - cracked, terracotta paintwork, stencilled logo - but the paint is an expensive mock-up, the stencil a neat homage to the Venetian municipality. It does look fabulous. As does the brown-paper menu of small plates (around £2 to £6). Plus, marks for greaseless frying in the likes of arancini (little risotto balls, stuffed with a nugget of mozzarella) and for clever buying - mortadella, filled with tangy gorgonzola and the crunch of walnuts, is far superior to the flabby baloney-type sausage experienced elsewhere. Addictively chewy pizza bianca - properly made pizza bread with a sultry cheesy-oniony topping - is just ace, as is a mackerel tartare with horseradish and crisp carta di musica bread. We're not impressed with the stringy pepper skins in the pepperonata, or a tiny radicchio and rocket salad with browning leaves. (A meal for two with wine, water and service, £75. Rating: 3/5).
Polpo - review in full>>
Evening Standard, 7 October
Fay Maschler is disappointed that Aqua Nueva - part of what is probably the biggest restaurant launch of the year at 240 Regent Street, London W1 - is bleak, unnecessarily formal and serves Spanish food lacking in authenticity
Main courses chosen by the three of us were all meaty; 24-hour marinated and braised oxtail, roasted Iberian neck of pork with mixed peppercorn sauce and partridge Alcantara style. It was explained that the partridge was served with sausage meat although, I later discovered, the traditional garnish, as stipulated by the Benedictine monastery at Alcantara, is the infinitely more alluring whole truffles and chopped duck livers. A sticky, dark, over-reduced sauce covering meat cooked too long was a common factor in all three dishes. "It's early Gary Rhodes isn't it?" said the recipient of the oxtail. The gesture made towards a green presence - a scattering of identical almost raw mixed vegetables with the oxtail and the tough cubes of pork - did nothing to redress the lack of balance. Spanish cooking is the cuisine of the moment but it is tricky to get right and also, when correct, more alien than you might suppose. (A meal for two, with wine, about £105 including 12.5% service charge. Rating: 2/5).
Aqua Nueva- review in full>>
Time Out, 7 September
Guy Dimond finds the arrival of Antelope, a new gastropub at 76 Mitcham Road, London SW17, to be a welcome addition to the eating-out scene in Tooting
Every dish on the daily-changing menu sounds like the sort of thing a good contemporary home cook would relish making. Chef Simon Phelan used to work at Flaneur, and before that, Nicole's. Squid had been nicely cut then char-grilled, and served with a tidy pile of firm, green lentils and half a lemon, in the Italian way; a good starter. Sprats are not something the home cook often tackles, partly because of their fiddly pinbones, but their oiliness gives them an appealing texture and flavour. Hot-smoked, as these were, they're a good match with horseradish-spiked crème fraÁ®che sauce to counter the fat, and sprigs of watercress for a bitter note. Main courses included a shoulder of lamb with roast potatoes. Cheaper cuts like this have started to appear on a lot more menus this year, and slow-cooked, they are in no way inferior; this one had deep, savoury flavours. (Meal for two, with wine and service, around £55. Rating: 4/5).
Antelope - review in full>>
By Janet Harmer
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