Spuntino: Achingly hip date night

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I’d been hearing a lot about the bunch of new-ish hip Soho restaurants within the Polpo mini-empire.  The 45-60 min queue put me off trying them for the longest time, but I finally decided to bite the bullet last weekend.   Punchline: I see why everyone has been raving about it, but I don’t have the patience to survive another 45-60min wait.

It would be a great 1st couple of dates kinda spot.  Think about this, you’re with a guy you met recently, that you kinda like and you’re getting to know each other.  You rock up, slightly nervous but you order cocktails and chat while waiting for a spot.  The music’s loud so you have to lean in just a bit closer just to hear each other.  When you finally get your seat, you share small plates of uncomplicated but well-prepared food that don’t get in the way of conversation but give you a further opportunity to bond.  By the time you get the bill, you’re slightly tipsy with a happy bellyful of yummy food, it’s hard not to feel in love.

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So how’s the food?  The menu offers a selction of uncomplicated dishes well-prepared with good ingredients.   We ordered the signature Pickles, the outrageously cheesy and uber-yummy Mac & Cheese, Clam Chowder, Jerusalem Artichoke Salad with Black Truffle Vinagrette, Ground Beef and Bone Marrow Slider and Beetroot, Boiled Egg Salad with Anchovy.   It helps too that the menu is well-designed such that you can have what seems like a lot of food (due to the variety of flavours) and drinks for 30-40quid.

And the setting? It shares similarities with many of the other new hip-ish central London joints – dim lighting, loud high-tempo music, limited seating, hipster staff – almost as though someone brought East London to Soho.  Except instead of the arty-farty types who would have frequented the East London version, it is open to regular peeps including the likes of bankers and management consultants.

So it has all the ingredients to be a great experience and indeed it is a great experience.  It is just not for people with a low threshold for waiting unless it will be a mind-blowing kinda experience.  Now, Jose, that is a different kettle of fish (or chicken livers in this instance)…but I will leave that for another time.

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Good for: Date nights (especially first couple of dates)
Not good for: Groups larger than 2 (the bar seating makes conversation impossible for larger groups)

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