La Polenteria is a brand new restaurant in the heart of Soho. The restaurant specialises in polenta – boiled cornmeal mixed with water. It is a traditional peasant dish from Northern Italy, famed for its high content of protein, vitamins A and C, and the fact that it is gluten free.
La Polenteria is modern with some authentic touches. With a brass bar, vintage books lining the walls and jazz music, it is complemented by sleek wooden furniture and floors. But it’s not without its quirks – the menus are made out of organic corn processing residues.
First up, we tried the Polenta Bites, a selection of hors d’oeuvres ideal for cocktail hour. The bites were a showcase of polenta’s versatility – a mixture of sweet with savoury. The bites were covered with three different toppings. The first (gorgonzola with raspberry jam) was the clear winner: a sharp distinctive taste mixed with sweet jam. The next was ricotta with a pinch of orange – creamy and not too overpowering. The last felt the most classically Italian: sun-blushed tomatoes with olives, a more Mediterranean taste. The polenta was chewy, yet succulent.
For our main courses we tried a wide range, from vegetables to more hearty dishes like goulash. The polenta looked like mashed potato, but the consistency was solid and almost gelatinous. It takes the shape of its dish and you need a knife to slice it. It was La Polenteria’s assortment of toppings that made the dishes special.
The gorgonzola with nuts was the standout topping. Gorgonzola was melted over polenta, adorned with walnuts. The sauce was creamy with just a hint of sharp gorgonzola. The first vegan option of polenta was topped with a lovely range of grilled vegetables, authentically Italian with olive oil and a succulent bite. The second was a range of mixed mushrooms, rich in flavour.
Although vegan-friendly, there is also an interesting offering of meat dishes: of these the Tuscan Sausages with Borlotti Beans polenta shined.
For dessert we tried the Chocolate Coconut Square, a rich layer of dark chocolate with a vanilla cream centre and a chocolate coconut base. The cream had the consistency of butter cream – but as all desserts are vegan – it was a shock to find out that this was not butter but instead non-dairy margarine. It was a heavenly dessert and definitely worth making room for.
Overall La Polenteria is a great option for vegans, gluten-free diners and those looking for a more experimental Italian restaurant.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
La Polenteria: 49/60
To book a table at La Polenteria, 64 Old Compton Street, London W1D 4UD, call 020 7434 3617 or for further information visit here.