We turned up just before 7pm on a Friday and it was already packed with people shovelling food into their mouths and knocking back cocktails. It’s Soho scruffy-chic at its best- Fleetwood Mac blasting, industrial style lamps, hipster staff. We were told we’d be seated in twenty- perfect time to knock back a couple of cocktails. A Dark and Stormy and a New York Sours. Both were good, if a little sweet.
The Waitress came back to us after ten minutes and told us there was space in the back, in the dark little cove where you have a view of the wall in front of you, rather than up at the buzzing bar. We were getting hungry so we went for them. Another couple of cocktails stopped our grumbling, and we skimmed the menu. Like the rest of the Polpo group, a paper menu doubles up as your table mat, and is filled with small plates designed for sharing. Nothing on the menu cuts back on calories, so it’s not the type of place to come if you’re thinking about holding back. It’s all fried and cheesy, exactly the type of food you want to wash down with half pints of Camden pale ale (£3).
First to come was a cup of popcorn with chilli salt, a nice little touch to keep you wanting more beer, although the chilli salt didn’t have a kick. The buttermilk fried chicken (£4.50) was the perfect accompanying bar snack, prepping our stomach for the onslaught of fat to come.
Next up a heap of crispy shoestring fries (£3.50) which we laced with the chilli salt and ketchup. The bone marrow and beef slider (£5) missed the mark, it was a little small and the bone marrow was lost on me.
Next up was the famed truffled egg toast. It looked great, oozing with yolk and cheese, and I’d heard so many good things about it. But I’m sad to say it just didn’t live up to the hype. I’m sure this was just an off day for it, because it has all the makings of something you want to die eating. But tonight it was underseasoned, and there wasn’t that hit of truffle, and even the cheese could have been stronger.
This disappoinment was short lived because next up was ham hock and chicory salad (£6); the ham was salty and crispy croutons came with it, giving it a good oily crunch. With it the pork belly salad (£8.50), a little expensive for a few chunks of pork belly, but there was no denying that it tasted great.
Now we were already full, but the drink was kicking in, so we decided to order the mac n cheese (£9); a big portion with a with a delicious crumble on top and sticky cheese and leeks in the molten centre.
By now I was loosening the belt buckle, ready to ask for the bill, but then the waitress told me that the PB & J sandwich (£6) was ‘life changing’, so I could hardly say no. The two ‘bread slices’ are made out of the peanut butter ice cream, and its littered with crunchy nuts and sugary raspberry jam. One of the best puddings I’ve eaten in a while. Maybe by life changing the waitress meant that it strips years off your life. Either way I’ll certainly be going back again and again for it.
The bill came to £94 for the two of us. Admittedly we didn’t really need the mac n cheese, and we had two cocktails and two beers each, so it is probably about right, if a little on the expensive side for what is essentially cheap-and-nasty late-night diner food that has been given a good sprucing up. The service wasn’t great either. There was a couple of times we were having to catch their eye to ask for more drinks and the small plates were piling up before they were moved. Maybe it was just because we were tucked away in the dark corner, but it did feel like we were forgotten about at times. This is only a minor complaint, and we left feeling happy, full and drunk, so you can’t ask for much more. Spuntino is rowdy, sweaty and you’ll wake up with a hangover, but sometimes this is exactly what you need. So if you ever find yourself in need of a treat after a tough day there are few better places to go.
61 Rupert Street, Soho W1D 7PW