August 10, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Despite nipping into Popolo for post-work cocktails on a number of occasions, I’d actually never got around to eating there. So, when I received an invite to the launch of Popolo’s new ‘Grill House’ menu, I was excited to finally be visiting Popolo for something other than drinks!

For me at least, the term ‘Grill House’ conjures up images of big steaks and whole, grilled fish, and maybe some gourmet burgers, pulled pork, and pancakes served with bacon and maple syrup. But beyond this handful of foodstuffs, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, so I was really intrigued to see what Popolo’s Grill House menu was all about.

If you’ve never eaten at this Leopold Square venue, their upstairs restaurant area is a really nice space, with a cosy and intimate atmosphere thanks to a combination of low lighting, plus candles and glittering glassware on every table. It’s the perfect setting for an evening meal, or even a special occasion.

First on the agenda, was our welcome drink. After a week of hot and humid weather, I was in the mood for a summery cocktail, so I couldn’t resist the the Wild Berry Jam (£5.95), which promised a double-whammy of fresh raspberries and blackberries, muddled with raspberry and blackberry liqueurs, and finished off with a helping of Wild Turkey 101 bourbon whiskey.

Popolo Wild Berry Jam

One sip of this cocktail, and I was hooked. It tasted like concentrated berry juice, served ice cold, with a boozy sting in its tail. The fresh berries gave the drink a tartness that contrasted wonderfully with the sweetness of the raspberry and blackberry liqueurs. Despite the addition of bourbon whiskey, my Wild Berry Jam seemed to be a bit light on the alcohol, but it was so refreshing and tasty, I actually didn’t mind. This Wild Berry Jam is the perfect thirst-quencher on a hot day.

My dining companion opted for a Mint Julep, which Popolo served in a brassy mug, encrusted in ice. This cocktail certainly has the ‘wow’ factor!

Popolo Mint Julep

Unfortunately, after perusing Popolo’s drinks menu online, I’m pretty sure the Mint Julep was a one-off special, which makes me very sad.

Cocktails dispatched, it was time to turn our attention to Popolo’s mysterious Grill House menu.

As I’d suspected, the new menu features lots of steaks, ranging from a sensible 8oz sirloin, to a terrifying 22oz T-Bone steak, as well as pulled pork, burgers, buttermilk chicken, and grilled fish. Up to this point, Popolo were fulfilling my expectations of Grill House grub, but then things got a bit random, as Italian classics started cropping up on the menu – meatballs, lasagna, and three kinds of risotto. There’s also a few dishes I wouldn’t associate with Grill Houses at all, most notably a starter of asparagus, hollandaise sauce, and a poached egg.

It may be an eclectic menu, but it’s also a very tempting one, and I had no trouble finding a couple of dishes I liked the sound of. In the end, I commenced my three course feast with some crab cakes (£6.95).

This photo really doesn’t do my starter justice – the crab cakes were enormous. Add a side salad and a handful of chips, and this would easily be a main meal.

Popolo crab cake

This wasn’t a case of quantity over quality though, as the crab cakes were delicious. The crab meat had a creamy, melt-in-the-mouth consistency, and the light coating didn’t overwhelm the delicate taste of the crab.

The crab cakes came with a chunky mango and avocado salsa that was very simple and fresh, and complimented the crab cakes perfectly.

These are easily the best crab cakes I’ve ever wolfed down – although the sheer size of this starter had me wondering how I was going to find room for my main course, never mind a desert!

Also winging its way to our table, was a starter of grilled asparagus, topped with a poached egg and lashings of hollandaise sauce (£5.95). The whole thing looked mouth-watering.

Popolo's asparagus, egg, and hollandaise sauce

In fact, it was so tempting, I couldn’t resist having a taste! The asparagus and egg were both perfectly cooked, and the hollandaise was creamy with a wonderful silky texture.

Neither of us could fault our starters. Popolo had set the bar high for the rest of the evening!

For my main, I’d gone for the king prawn and chilli risotto (£13.95). First impressions were good; I spied lots of tomato chunks and super-sized king prawns.

Popolo risotto

Bearing in mind I’d just scoffed two massive crab cakes, the sheer amount of risotto was a bit daunting, but I took a deep breath and got stuck in. Unfortunately, what I got stuck into was a king prawn so chewy and tough, it was like eating overcooked squid. However, this turned out to be a weird one-off, as every other prawn in my risotto was lightly cooked, tender, and delicious.

Apart from that solitary, tough-as-boots prawn, I thoroughly enjoyed my risotto.

At the other end of the table, my dining companion had ordered an incredible-looking plate of BBQ pulled pork, served on a sweet waffle, and accompanied by a very rustic apple and fennel slaw, plus skin-on chips.

Popolo pulled pork

The pulled pork was tender and juicy, and fell apart in the mouth – basically, everything you want from pulled pork. The meat also worked really well with the sweet waffle, and the rustic slaw. If you have a soft spot for pancakes, bacon and maple syrup, then you have to try this!

It was time for pudding, and even though I was stuffed from my super-sized crab cakes and big bowl of risotto, I couldn’t resist Popolo’s Oreo cheesecake.

My cheesecake arrived perfectly presented on a wooden board, dusted with icing sugar, and decorated with a few strategically-placed mint leaves.

Popolo Oreo cheesecake

Okay, so it looked good, but how did it taste? The cheesecake was creamy and sweet without being sickly, but my favourite part of the meal was the accompanying ice cream, which was so light and refreshing, it was almost like a sorbet. After a big meal, this was exactly what I needed.

And with that, our evening of Grill House gluttony was done. Popolo’s new menu is a bit of a random one, but what does that matter when they serve such great food?

All our meals were big, tasty and – apart from that single, rubbery prawn – perfectly cooked. Popolo also scores top marks for presentation, and attention to detail. The food may be a tad pricier than many other city center venues, but it’s worth those few extra pounds.

In short, we drank some great cocktails, ate lots of great food, and enjoyed the surroundings and atmosphere at Popolo. The negatives? Really, my only complaint is a solitary overcooked prawn – and, when that’s the only flaw you can find in a three course meal, you know you’ve had a good night.



1 Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. […] newbie to add to the list: the Botanist, which has just opened in the unit formerly known as Popolo. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: