Working in Soho has its perks. A wide selections of boutiques, bars, coffee shops and market stalls, it’s easy to spend more than you thought you might when you pop out for a coffee at lunchtime, or ‘just one drink’ after work.
Having to follow a gluten free diet however, doesn’t make eating out easy. There’s only so many times I can visit Pizza Express or ASK without craving originality and creative menus where new ideas come as fresh as the ingredients that make them. That’s when I discovered La Polenteria. Hidden within the hustle and bustle of Old Compton Street, a welcoming, and very traditional family-run Italian with a twist – polenta.
For those of you that don’t know, polenta is of Italian origin and was often eaten in the Roman times as a substitute for corn. It can be baked, grilled or fried to make a variety of sweet and savory dishes – something La Polenteria do best.
With a menu that offers a variety of flavours, La Polenteria serve up polenta in all its forms, from savoury tarts, to tiny horderves, baked chips, filling mash and even sugary cupcakes.
Here’s what we went for:
Starter Mini polenta horderves
Mains Pollo alla Romana
Smoked Scottish salmon salad with artichokes, rocket, olives and oranges
Dessert Ferrero Rocher cupcake
Surprisingly all polenta dishes we tried we very different. The small horderves for starter were soft and dough like, complimented by each of the three flavours (cheese and jam was the fave). The Pollo alla Romama, which reminded me of a sweet chicken and tomato stew, was served on a bed of polenta, almost resembling a fluffy mash with a thick texture. Whipping a taster of my friend Lauren’s baked polenta chips that accompanied her salad, I was surprised to find again a very different taste. All were highly enjoyable, but the cupcake was on a different scale altogether. Although not fully gluten free, as 15% standard flour was used, as my allergy isn’t as severe as those who are Coelliac, I chanced it and had a small piece. The light fluffy texture and thick creamy chocolate icing, complete with chopped hazelnuts, made the perfect dessert,
It’s clear that La Polenteria pour so much thought and precision into all of their dishes. Unlike many restaurants that churn out identical dishes, hurrying you out the door as soon as you so much drop your knife and fork, La Polenteria provide the warmest of welcomes, explaining everything you should need to know about the dishes on offer to help make your all important choice. From trying such a wide selection of their menu however, it’s impossible to make a poor decision.
Main courses are priced at roughly £10 and cakes/biscuits for under £4. You can even grab a polenta sandwich at lunchtime for a great price!