La Polenteria – Soho – Simple Italian Food with a Difference

Old Compton Street – La Polenteria:

Polenteria SohoI like Polenta – Italian comfort food that you can keep in your store cupboard and cook up when you want something warm and filling.  Wiki has an amazingly prosaic description.

Polenta is cornmeal boiled into a porridge, and eaten directly or baked, fried or grilled. The term is of Italian origin, derived from the Latin for hulled and crushed grain (especially barley-meal). Maize was not cultivated in Europe until the early 16th century. It comes from the same base as “pollen”.  As it is known today, polenta derives from earlier forms of grain mush (known as puls or pulmentum in Latin or more commonly as gruel or porridge), commonly eaten since Roman times. Before the introduction of corn from the New World in the 16th century, polenta was made with such starchy ingredients as farro, chestnut flour, millet, spelt, or chickpeas.

Polenteria Pans

Sold?  Well maybe not.  But, you need to try it before you make a decision.  For me, it’s a bit like a pizza base, something that will work with all sorts of toppings – and at La Polenteria, entrepreneur Cristina Sparcaci is aiming to show the London public just that.  She’s created a unique cafe serving a menu that may not be authentically Italian but that does provide the kind of food I can see becoming quite a trend.

Orange and Fennel Salad - Polenteria

I went along for a quick supper after another food event, perhaps a little fuller than I should have been given the intention to try the food.  As a result we shared a salad to start – a delicious, light rocket, orange and fennel salad.

Polenteria Wild boar Ragu 2

My main course of Polenta with wild boar ragu is a classic Northern Italian dish.  I’ve eaten much the same in Florence and I’ve tried on occasions to make a ragu that has the right depth of flavour.  Whatever is done in the Italian kitchen to create that smokey, rich, tomato flavour is not something I’ve ever managed to replicate.  But at La Polenteria the ragu does have all the taste of Italy.

Bacalau - Polenteria

Baccala’alla Vicentina was a richly tomato based fish sauce and I’d have been happy to swap places with my dining companion.  And there are more menu options that sound well worth exploring including a Burrata and fresh chopped cherry tomato option and Tuscan sausage with borlotti beans.

Polenteria Blackboard

There are more salads and sandwiches, wines and craft beers to drink and some excellent coffee and desserts to round off the meal on offer too and I’m sure if I worked in the area  La Polenteria would become a lunchtime regular with main courses start at around £7.00 for the vegetarian and vegan options.  As it is, I’m looking for an excuse to drop in again sometime soon to try one of the sweet polenta dishes.

Polenteria Interior
La Polenteria
64 Old Compton Street
Greater London, UK W1D 4UQ
La Polenteria on Urbanspoon

4 / 5 stars     
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  1. I love Polenta too Fiona. I think it is already very trendy!

  2. Sounds fab! Definetely have to visit this place :) I’ve never tried polenta before but have some recipes bookmarked :)

  3. I love polenta and that wild boar ragu looks amazing. It looks like it is definitely a place worth trekking to from the other end of London.

  4. I like Pollenta too and this place looks very homely and minimalistic , I like such places. In India too we make pancakes with cornflour the batter is spiced well and served hot with various chutneys ummm

  5. Looks like a grat place to visit. When you say, “polenta,” I say “grits.” “Polenta…” “Grits…” “Polenta…”

  6. this looks fabulous> I would so love to eat there. I would love to snag their recipe for the ragu. who wouldn’t want to eat that?

  7. I too am a polenta fan – it’s so versatile and as you say comforting. Quite like the idea of an eatery dedicated to it.

  8. I am a fan of polenta and this looks an interesting place to visit with great photos by you too Fiona! Karen

  9. This is on my review list and looks like I’ll have to move it to near the top. I cannot wait to go!

  10. What a lovely idea for a cafe! Love polenta and both those two dishes sound no less than fabulous!

  11. Oh how exciting! I want to eat here!

  12. I’d actually really love to try this place. Polenta is not something I really cook or eat at all, so it would be great to explore all the different menu options. A great review. Love the copper pans on the wall :-)

  13. Funny I always have polenta in the cupboard but I’m not very inventive with it. Fiona, you’ve made me think about it in a whole new light!
    Janie x

  14. An interesting concept for a restaurant, sounds like good comfort food for these miserable days

  15. Maya Russell says:

    I have not had polenta, I don’t think. I’d love to visit this restaurant.

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