A restaurant with dishes to share, probably not the best place to eat alone. Perched on the end of the bar with a book and a view of the passing traffic, Polpo was nevertheless a charming place to eat away an afternoon.
Resisting the urge to greedily over order I managed to restrict myself to about enough food for two people to share.
An opener of anchovy and chick pea crostino was strangely offensive to a lover of salty sprats. The crostino of chopped chicken liver was better, but far from the mind blowing snacky bits down the road at Spuntino.
Prawn and monks beard risotto had great flavour, prawns were plentiful and perfectly cooked, unfortunately the rice was a little too far on the chalky side of al dente. Calves liver, onions and sage was OK, a few pieces were too tough and the dish suffered from a careless over salting. Both these dishes would have been far better shared, as eaten alone everything beyond the first bite was powerfully underwhelming.
Dessert was better. Panettone pudding was deep, rich and suggestively boozy, incredibly good value at £3.
I drank tap water throughout my meal, almost two litres of it. Meanwhile my waitress was learning to free pour 25ml shots of water, with varying measures of success.
I am sure Polpo is better in the evenings: with a buzz, some booze, and hungry friends because it is a stunning restaurant space, the menu reads well, and the staff are excellent. Unfortunately on this occasion the food, like the waitresses free-pouring, was rather inconsistent.
Distance from Croydon: Overground to Victoria, tube to Oxford Circus, Walk.
For enough food for 2 and no booze it cost £21, add more friends and share everything to make Polpo even better value.