Wellcome Dirt, and Da Polpo

London in the summer: it’s rained for ten minutes ever half hour since 9 this morning.  The only thing to do on a day like today is be cultural and stuff one’s face.

We popped in to the Wellcome in Euston to see the exhibition on Dirt.  I love the Wellcome – it’s always got something fascinating on, the space is great, they have these beautiful lights in the coffee shop that change colour

and the Peyton and Byrne concession has very good coffee and these endearing Hazlenut Bears, competing with the more conventionally attractive Gingerbread Men for one’s affections.

The exhibition itself was good – quite a lot of faeces involved, some grim stuff from 1930s Germany and some good quotes on the wall in a font I like:

We then headed to Covent Garden to try out Da Polpo, sister restaurant to Polpo, Polpetto, and Spuntino.   This family’s growing, fast.  Da Polpo’s definitely my favourite member. 

Partly because the staff were fantastic – charming, knowledgeable, friendly; partly because the room is really relaxed and calm – far less effortful than Spuntino, and not as crammed as Polpo.

But mostly because the food is more consistent and coherent.

We had a couple of the cicheti, small bites – an arancini that was ok (not as good as the ones at Bocca) and a betta crocchetta, with parmesan and potato.

Then we had two pizzette, small pizzas. These are not like Pizza Express small pizzas, which seem to shrink every year.  Rather, they’re thin, crisp and light, with delicious toppings.  Spuntino does a good line in them, and Da Polpo offers even more.   Totally delicious.  One bianco, with red onion and mozzarella,

and one with soft egg, spinach and parmesan

I asked my companion Dan to put his finger next to the pizzetta, so you can see the scale, but Dan has big hands and you wouldn’t necessarily be able to judge it.  He said it’s 12 inches across.  He would.  I’d say it was 10.

My favourite thing was this super-simple shaved fennel, curly endive and toasted almond salad in a light lemony dressing:

The only slightly under-whelming dish was these meatballs, made with chickpeas, spinach and ricotta

which to be fair I take the blame for, as I don’t see the point of meat-free meatballs.  Just call them balls, or veg balls or something.  And then don’t order them.  (Although the tomato sauce in which they were covered was excellent – very fresh, clean and sweet tasting.)

We ate loads and the bill was less than £13 a head, including service.  A very strong 8.5/10.

One other noteworthy point – in the ladies’ loos (I cannot vouch for the men’s on this occasion) – if you look up, you can see people walking over your head on the glass in the pavement above, which is mildly unnerving.

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