Sunday, 19 June 2011
Polpo, Sputino &c.
£God only knows, Soho.
I had always assumed lunch was a bit like Christmas; special because of its scarcity. It comes but once a day, a neat anchor-point right in the middle, much anticipated beforehand, and remembered fondly over subsequent hours.
Recent experience however has led me to establish that this is a myth, a mos perpetuated by mealtime traditionalists and admirers of 'brunch' alike. There is, in fact, no reason at all not to keep having lunches all afternoon, especially if you are somewhere as small and densely populated by trendy eateries as Soho...
The Russian's American Sister is a prodigously talented luncher, never found wanting in enthusiasm or execution, and only, on occasion, in sense of direction. The hundred metre walk from her apartment to Polpo took just over an hour. Once inside though we were golden.
The lamentable affectation of serving all wine in Duralex tumblers slightly undermined an otherwise good Bellini. Tapas (or 'Cicheti' if we need another word for tapas) varied from ok to pretty good, taking in fennel salami, pickled cabbage, potato and parmesan croquette, artichoke, prosciutto and a curious anchovy and chickpea houmous-tapenade hybrid. But they were very small, and at this point we didn't realise this lunch was merely the beginning of a trilogy.
From their 'Bread' section we came away with a small tomato-less pizza topped with garlicky, cheesy spinach and an egg, and something described thus: "Cured pork shoulder & Peperonata panino" which rather predictably turned out to be a ham and red pepper pannini. Both were good, but the spinach number was better. I can't remeber how much this little lot came to, but it wasn't much, and I nabbed a postcard on the way out- so a sucessful venture all round.
We retired back to the American's flat for some time on the roof terrace and a bottle of 2010 Iglesia Vella from Roc des Anges. The wine was unfortunately a barrel sample, and though not fizzy it had more than a smack of not-quite-finished-fermentation appleyness.
With the line between digestif and aperitif suitably blurred we were ready for lunch.
I was all up for a little trip to Hix Soho just down the street, but the American denounced it as 'shit' and so we had to go to the pub next door for Bangers, Mash and Beer. It was a classic interpretation of the theme, comprising cumberlands, mash, and a summery, hoppy ale or two. Very nice, and only let down by the fact that the onions rings were doused in gravy which comprehensively negated their crunchiness. Oh well.
After lunch we headed out for a few cocktails, the most memorable- in an unmarked downstairs bar decked out like an acid trip- all plastic mushroom lamps and barbie dolls glued to the ceiling. The best- a pretty good passion fruit daiquiri was, perhaps not coincedentally, the only cocktail all day served in a proper glass.
I had come to Soho that afternoon with a number of objectives; I had to return the American a bag of her clothes which she had left at my house on Friday, I wanted to drink posh wine in the sun on her roof terrace, and (ideally) I wanted to find Sputino, a newly opened gaff described universally as "achingly hip".
No cartographer in history has ever gotten to grips with the area ('tho Signore Alighieri had a go a while back I believe), and Sputino apparently had no signage and frosted windows... I didn't hold out much hope.
Imagine my delight then when, not 25 metres from the American's front door, we stumbled across (and subsequently into) it, for lunch.
The American is a 19 year old model, and was wearing sunglasses, as such she pulled off "achingly hip" quite well. My own sunglasses, on the other hand were broken, and I had been pushing the boundary between "achingly hip" and comatose for a couple of hours already. I remember little apart from a good pulled pork mini burger, and another equally good mini burger, though we may have just ordered the same pork one again. She has since informed me that there was also a croque monsieur, shoestring fries (whatever they may be), and some cocktails made with orange blossom involved.
It is an intereating fact that any particular day's fun quotient is in fact proportional to the cube of how many times one has been for lunch. Hence this was a full 27 times better than your run-of-the-mill Sunday.
Which is convenient because attempting this kind of bollix more than twice a year would probably kill me quite quickly.
* Unfortunately I failed a little in taking any photos of our adventure, save the authentically Soho view from the American's front door.