Eating London: Polpo Soho/Fernandez & Wells

I have thing for tiny little bars and restaurants. Some of the best places I've visited on my travels and my favourite regular haunts in London are more or less standing room only. I don't know why but I love being jammed into cosy bustling rooms with a handful of people enjoying yummy eats and drinks and swapping banter with staff and patrons alike. I had a lovely day last week for my birthday discovering a new favourite little place and revisiting an old gem.

After a quick turn around the shops a friend and I dropped in to Polpo on Beak Street for a bite of lunch, I'd heard some vague rumblings that it did good stuff, and as we happened to stumble upon it we decided to pop in and I'm soo pleased we did. Polpo specialises in small northern Italian dishes, the kind of place where you can order a bunch of plates between friends to happily munch away over a couple of glasses of wine and a gossip. We managed to work our way through small plates of white beans with wild garlic, salmon and dill crostino, broad bean, ricotta and mint bruchetta, pork belly with radicchio and hazelnuts and gorgeous crispy rosemary roast potatoes and everything was divine.

It's clearly developed quite a following as it appeared we were extremely lucky to score a couple of seats immediately to eat at the bar as we were followed by a procession of disappointed hopeful diners who found themselves stacked up by the door waiting for tables. The ambiance is buzzy with great music, cosy rustic decor and staff who despite clearly being rushed off their feet were still cheerful and ready to banter.

Later on that evening I assembled a small group of friends at Fernandez & Wells which is a gorgeous little food and wine bar on Lexington Street, and currently my favourite place for a civilised drink and snack in London. The guys behind the bar are all charming and very knowledgeable. They serve fantastic wine and delicious little plates of Mediterranean delicacies including fab Manchego cheese, melty a range of gorgeous meats - jamon, grilled chorizo, lomo and my current favourite - fresh sardines, with toasted sourdough bread and white beans. We polished off several bottles of very good Prosecco (good Prosecco beats bad champagne in my book), and I got over excited opening my presents. For pudding we toasted each other with mini red velvet cupcakes which I'd procured earlier from the Hummingbird Bakery before winding our way deeper into Soho for a night of slightly less civilised drinking and dancing - what a great day!


  1. Hello there! So happy you stopped by my blog and introduced yourself. I really like your blog too. I'd follow if I could. I know, I need to get it together with twitter.

    Very jealous of your Thom Yorke solo! He's playing here this summer in the dessert, and I heard the rest of Radiohead will be there too for another show but it's one of those outdoor festivals that I can't stomach anymore. Not since I got caught up in one of those random mosh pits and I swear I floated in that thing for at least 2 whole minutes!

    Anyway, flattered you used the OP video. Cute isn't it? I'll be back ...

  2. I love Fernandez & Wells - always pop in there for a pasteis de nata. But jealous that you managed to get a seat at Polpo - I keep meaning to try harder!

  3. Yes love F&W's cafe too and I live for those pasteis de nata, custard tart heaven. I'm off to Lisbon this week and suspect they will make up at least 70% of my holiday diet!

    Suspect it's a tiny bit easier to get into Polpo for lunch than dinner - or at least less of a wait for a table. Think I had birthday luck!



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