REVIEW: Popolo, Shoreditch
WHAT? A tiny, minimal open kitchen peddling a rainbow of tapas-style Moorish, Italian and Spanish dishes.
WHERE? Bang in the middle of buzzing Rivington Street – but stepping inside, it feels like a well-kept secret. Just a few months ago, a takeaway shop stood in this very spot. Now an L-shaped bar makes for an intimate dining experience, face-to-face with the proud chef – and it’s clear to anyone listening that his job is a labour of love.
WHAT? We began with what’s fast becoming a signature dish at Popolo – golden, fried olives and crunchy chickpeas on a swirl of labne. Fresh and unusual, it lived up to our host’s heartfelt recommendation alongside some salty Pardon peppers. Next, a lip-blackening risotto nero, the ink packed with real flavour and plenty of tender squid peppered throughout.
Meltingly soft octopus chunks were served up on slices of potato, a warm and comforting dish contrasting with the sharp, tasy Bagna cauda – romanesco, carrots and violeta artichoke served in a punchy anchovy sauce. Pasta is made fresh on-site, too – try the grouse cappelletti, drizzled in porcini butter.
Save room for the dinky desserts too – the likes of flourless chocolate cake, burnt honey panna cotta and twice-baked almond biscuits perfect for rounding off the evening with a strong cup of fresh coffee.
HOW MUCH? Taster plates are between £3.50-4,50, vegetable plates around £7. Meat, fish and seafood dishes like the signature pulpo (octopus, paprika & saltwort) will set you back about £9-10. We recommend three, perhaps four plates per person if you’re really starving.
ADDRESS: 26 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3DU