I’m a big fan of the Polpos. They’re a sure thing for a quick, inexpensive, consistently tasty dinner experience. I had been to a couple prior, but this was my first time at Polpo at Ape & Bird.
I was always confused on what the “at Ape & Bird” part even meant, as if the restaurant was on the corner of Ape and its cross street Bird. But actually, Ape & Bird was a pub that later joined forces with the successful Italian small plates chain. Or something like that. Regardless, Polpo at Ape & Bird is just as good as it’s (better-named) siblings.
My only real complaint of the experience was the sun that blinded each patron because of their lack of window treatments. The sun was so fierce the entire duration of our meals. We enviously watched many two-tops change seats, but we couldn’t since they didn’t have any other tables for three at the first-come, first-serve establishment. I never thought I could ever complain about too much sun in England, but spending a full dinner squinting is miserable. Not to mention wrinkle-inducing.
Once I accepted the fact that Polpo at Ape & Bird didn’t believe in window treatments, I moved on to have an enjoyable meal before a musical down the street. Polpo is perfect for in and out meals, if you can get a seat. We arrived at 5:45, before the big rush and were seated in an empty restaurant that would fill up with a waiting list within the next 45 minutes. I find 7:30 show times tough because the only thing I hate more than eating at 6:00 is sitting down to dinner at 11:00. Especially when the show was a snooze.
For dinner I went with some of my Polpo favorites: the classic meatballs, any one of their salads, and the chili crab pasta. Everything is so good. Their gorgonzola savory and Nutella dessert flatbreads I also particularly enjoy. I really haven’t had a bad dish. The tapas-style dining is great for sharing and getting to try a little bit of everything. Polpo also has a pretty inventive cocktail list. There’s pretty much something for everyone, which is good because the staff had a blank stare when I asked them for a basic Old Fashioned. Apparently they can only handle what is specifically on their cocktail menu. Good thing those cocktails are too delicious.
So head right in for a quick meal before your next musical or after a day of shopping and sightseeing. Polpo at Ape & Bird is low-key, affordable dining at its best and will surely work for even the pickiest of eaters. Enjoy!
Polpo at Ape & Bird
142 Shaftesbury Avenue
London WC2H 8HJ