Polpo Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge
Eating in a shopping centre is the choice of shopped-out friends or chore-bored couples, not the place for dates. However, Polpo, the Soho institution spreading like friendly bacteria, has managed to make Harvey Nichols a place I’d date someone other than a sugar daddy.
You see the decor looks the same as it usually does – rustic wooden tables, beakers for wine, low hanging bulbs and leather banquettes and the staff have the signature Polpo quality of being cool but friendly, relaxed yet hopelessly efficient. And while the date mantra tends to be the darker the better, they have managed to light the place flatteringly enough for a 2pm lunch date to turn into an unjudged wine-swilling session.
The crowd does at times seem accidental and a touch touristy. That said, any couple I’ve spotted here has clearly decided against grabbing a sensible light bite in the main cafe, instead easing their shopping woes with a real session of a meal. Keep the carafes coming. Soho vibes with Knightsbridge swag, I like it.
Venetian small plates and lots of Montepulciano. Classics include stuffed fried olives, beef and pork meatballs and cod cheeks with salsa verde and lentils. Sober up with a crab linguini and share a Tiramisu pot. Then pause for an hour, and start again on the nibbles.
Obviously this should fit into a grander plan. Pick a Saturday in Spring/Summer and meet in Hyde Park for a wander towards Knightsbridge. Then enter the shopping bit and whimsically pop into Harvey Nicks to pick up an amazing jam/chocolate spread/utensil from the food bit upstairs. Once you’ve bought them something small and charming, suggest a meal to make up for the walk. Oh look, a Polpo.
Head on in and take a weight off. Then stay for 3 hours and feel naughty for being drunk in a shop. Out into the fresh air, a quick kiss, then a cab to the motherland – Soho.
No matter how consistent it is with the brand, I’m not sure how I’d feel about a destination dinner here. Late lunch? YES.