La Polenteria, round two – spring menu 2016
64 Old Compton Street, W1D 4UQ
Last August, I discovered a small and cosy establishment called La Polenteria in the midst of bustling Soho. I loved the service and the interesting flavours, and told myself I would come back and try their new spring menu. And whilst London spring has not quite sprung yet, I decided to give it a go nonetheless!
The new menu was almost entirely unfamiliar, but felt more approachable, as it wasn’t overwhelmingly polenta-based. Last year, it seemed as though 95% of the dishes had polenta, whereas now, they’ve stuck to a moderate 50%, allowing other ingredients to shine through. As before, there were a huge number of vegetarian and vegan options, and their boastings are true – the entire menu is 100% gluten free.
Fried polenta with melted and rich Scamorza cheese, topped with a fried egg, drizzled with truffle oil, and garnished with asparagus? NOMNOMNOM. I loved this starter, particularly as I discovered in Rome last year that Scamorza is one of the few cheeses I actually like!
The poached spicy egg with polenta croutons didn’t entirely convince me – there was too much garlic and too little salt, though I did enjoy the presentation. The croutons, whilst not crispy as I would have expected, had a lovely texture to them.
Ever since my trip to Cornwall last weekend, I have a new-found appreciation for grey slate, particularly when food is presented upon it! I loved the presentation of this dish, and the salmon and avocado were a great complement to the polenta gnocchi. The dish overall was slightly heavy, as the gnocchi was quite dense, but very tasty nonetheless.
Winner, winner, beef ravioli dinner! This dish, potentially the least pleasing to the eye, and ironically the only one not containing polenta, blew us away. The slow-cooked, flavoursome beef, the sweet balsamic reduction with caramelised onions, and the lovely pine nuts on top… it was the undisputed best dish of the night. I savoured every bite!
As I remembered from last time, the service at La Polenteria was unabashedly Italian and friendly. Our waiter, Francesco (aka Johnny), checked in on us regularly, and knows the menu like the back of his hand. He even remembered me from last year, and his personal touch is what made the evening all the more enjoyable! The place was bustling, even on a Monday night, but it felt warm and cosy, rather than disturbing. There were definitely a lot of unique flavours, and a very interesting menu. I will come back for that ravioli, and perhaps even skip the starters to save room for dessert!
I was a guest at La Polenteria, but as always, all views are my own.