Polpo, sharing dishes and seasonal cocktails

Sometimes, especially during this time of the year, it is good to look back at the year and take in your achievements. Polpo was one of the first restaurants I ever wrote a review of for Brighton Born and Bread so I was so happy when I was invited back last year for both an event and to review their full menu. 

I was lucky to go along to their 'The Spirit of Dining' earlier on in the year, an event that celebrated the collaboration between Sipsmith gin and Polpo to create cocktails to be enjoyed alongside their delicious Cicheti. I love the idea of popping in pre-theatre to enjoy one of their cocktails alongside a couple of their smaller dishes; the American tourist cocktail of gin, bourbon, lemon and honey was a favourite of mine. 

Following the event, I was then invited back again for an evening meal to try some of their other full menu offerings. 

 Polpo's general concept is more of a sharing plate than individual portions menu and it's something I enjoy! As a big foodie, I like to be able to try a range of things on a menu and with all of the plates being sharing size its a great place to head on a date night or with a fellow foodie. As a rule I like to try something from each section ie a fish dish and a small plate so on our first my mum and I order a variety of dishes to try.

 Interestingly, our stand out dishes were both smaller dishes. We loved the two types of arancini dishes; the nduja arancini was as delicious, with a great balance of creamy arancini and spicey nduja sausage. However for us, was the chickpea, spinach and ricotta balls were the favourite dish of the night. A much lighter dish than we were anticipating, they were served with a perfectly balanced tomato sauce and parmesan. A must order for any vegetarians or non-vegetarians dining at Polpo.

We had a pasta ragu dish last time and were slightly underwhelmed, so this time we went for a different flavour of lamb and garlic meatballs. The flavours were nice but the tomato sauce needing something and I will always prefer a meatball with spaghetti (you can order with spaghetti but we opted to go without this time). We also had the fritto miso, a selection of fried fish, and always a classic option for mum and I - it was perfectly crispy without overshadowing the delicate fish and there was a great range of seafood on the plate. 

A new but highly-recommended try for us was their pizettes; a small crisp pizza with minimal toppings but big flavours. We went for the gorgozola and proscitto toppings which had some strong flavours to match but was delicious and a definite must-try if you are to visit. (On a return visit we ordered the gorgonzola, walnut and salsa verde pizettes and it was an even better flavour balance!)

We went for the panna cotta with winter berries for dessert to share, if you are a dessert person then I would recommend getting one each as they are not made for two but the dessert was creamy with the great contrast of sharp berries. Next time, I may cut back on main dishes to save some space for their delicious (and very naughty looking) Nutella pizetta. 

What I love about Polpo is the service. The restaurant itself is small but with the seperate areas of the bar (for cichetti and cocktails) and restuarant for a dimmer-lit dining experience, it's a good option for all. The staff consitently check with allergies and have a well thought out allergy menu, which is so helpful. They are also always ready with personal recommendations and I love the changing specials that are on offer as well. 

Alongside the food, there are also great drink options. From their delicious seasonal cocktails to a wide range of Italian wines, there is a good selection to go alongside your meal or just to pop in for. 

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