Harden's survey result
Now ten years old, Russell Norman and Richard Beatty’s Venetian/Mediterranean chain faces the well-publicised challenge of a March CVA (Company Voluntary Agreement), amidst a drip-feed of branch closures. Fans do still applaud its “very convivial and fun” formula, but even they often feel it’s “somewhat lost its way”, with staff who can seem “overwhelmed” and serving Venetian small plates that are often “no better than fine”, and at worst “uncared for” or “very mediocre”.
Russell Norman’s “buzzy and very casual” cicchetti cafés still have a large fan club who applaud “very tasty, tapas-style fare”, “drinkable wine served in tumblers” and a “friendly atmosphere”. But the feeling that it “was once original, but has now been bypassed and needs updating” captures the mood of a fair few who “expected more” of the “hit ’n’ miss service” and “uninspired food”.
“Delicious Venetian-style tapas” is still applauded by the big fanclub of Russell Norman’s “rammed-and-noisy or buzzy (you take your pick)” cicchetti cafés, which can still offer “a fun time” without breaking the bank. However there’s also a significant sceptical minority, who nowadays view their performance as “a bit tired” or even “oh-so-disappointing”.
“Can’t see what the hype is (was) about?” Russell Norman’s “frenetic”, Venetian cichetti cafés are, at their best, “a fun option for a quick bite, with an appealing choice of small plates” but they are “slipping” fast – the food is “losing its edge”, service is “very rushed”, and “there’s not enough space between tables”.
Polpo Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Very nice selection of food. Would love some more veggie options that didn't come with bread (although the chickpea meatballs were delicious). A good late night option and lovely and laid back!"