Thursday, 25 October 2012
There was quite an interesting reaction to my post about the new Brindisa place Tramontana in Shoreditch. Let me repeat that I had a great time there - I thought the food was very accomplished, the staff friendly and I loved what they'd done with the room and open kitchen. But, it seems, not many other people did. You can read the comments from disappointed customers yourself on the post, but as well as those, no less than food & wine writer Fiona Beckett, whose tastes normally overlap mine fairly reliably, didn't think much of it.
I'm not sure which is stranger, though - that different people could have such different reactions to a meal in the same restaurant within the space of a week, or that, given our wildly differing fetishes and foibles, we ever have enough in common to recommend a restaurant at all. I mean think about this - some people don't even like Tayyabs. I know! Madness.
Following Tramontanagate then, and given the practical impossibility of finding an objectively good restaurant, it perhaps shouldn't have been too much of a surprise that much-loved and award-winning tapas bar Copita didn't excite me as I thought it was going to. But I was mainly disappointed not because I was expecting it to be brilliant, but because I really wanted it to be brilliant - another reliable ham-and-sherry outlet in the centre of London is always cause for celebration.
The first problem was with the Iberico ham, and given my hopeless addiction to the stuff I find it quite hard to forgive problems with Iberico ham. It was £15 for a fairly mean portion - close to the same amount that José sell for £9 - and was pretty badly carved, shredded and hacked into weird irregular bits and pieces, much of it dry and chewy. The flavour was still good, but the way it had been treated made me sad inside.
The rest was better, fortunately. Mussel croquettas weren't anywhere near as weird as they sound, in fact they were better than those at Tramontana, with a nice golden crust and creamy filling. Crispy cauliflower & piquillo sauce began enjoyably, delicately encrusted and seasoned well, but the sauce was underpowered and there wasn't enough of it, so very soon all you were eating was fried cauliflower and wishing you weren't. A lamb bun with harissa was very good though, my favourite overall, with tender chunks of slow-cooked lamb and a good kick from the harissa.
We got a cheese board too but as the waitress merely dumped them and ran off without explaining what they were, I can't tell you much about them other than I liked the gooey goat's and spongey blue, but the harder (mountain?) cheese was a bit bland. £11, mind.
With the cheapest bottle of sherry, itself a whacking £39, the total for two came to £88 and it's really in the value-for-money department that Copita loses most of its stars. The food was good, but not extraordinarily so, and I'm sure Soho rents have as much of an effect on the bill as the cost of ingredients which were generally of a high standard, but I couldn't help feeling that we didn't get a great deal for our £44 a head and had we been hungrier and thirstier the results could have been disastrous. Then again, perhaps you'll visit yourself, have a great time for a pittance and wonder what the hell I was moaning about. Such is the strange business of writing about restaurants.
Copita have been in touch to point out that their cheapest sherry is £15 for a half bottle, so a bit cheaper than the £39 full bottle we had.