Thursday, 25 October 2012

Copita, Soho

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.

Copita on Urbanspoon


Nationwide said...

mmmmm. Your reviews are good.
I discovered Copita 'by accident' just after it opened. We had the most fantastic night tasting and nibbling and drinking with the chef and left long, long after closing time. I fell in love with the place.
I took a guy who was opening his own place and we both loved it. I've been on my own, with Mrs Wide, nibbling and being careful. Still love it.
Then I went to a party there, given by the Galician Tourist people and it failed. Nothing seemed to work. the space wasn't right, the food wasn't good, nobody seemed to know what they were doing. The Galicians were a little dumbfounded.
It was as if the kitchen couldn't deal with it, nor the front of house staff.
I went back soon after and had little nibbles with a glass or two of wine. Not quite so in love with it, but it's still pretty damn fine for Soho. I don't know what the problem is, but they better fix it PDQ.

Lucy Burrows said...

I have found myself in agreement with all your reviews (if I've been to the restaurant, obviously), but I am one of the few people who can't stand Tayyab's. I used to live round the corner so have been several times and found the staff to be the rudest I've ever come across in London and the curry to be just so-so. The grilled meats are gorgeous, but no more so than Lahore and although that place has no atmosphere they don't treat their customers like crap. Maybe if I returned to Tayyab's since the rise of the no-reservation-restaurant I would be less disappointed by the service, as disdain for the customer has become more acceptable recently, but every time I see Tayyab's being praised I am flummoxed.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

Great review, once again.

I think the gooey goats cheese is a Monte Enebro and the blue looks very much like a Picos de Europa.



Anonymous said...

@Lucy: I think the tayyabs thing is overdone. Akbars in manchester is way better IMO (lamb and ginger curry anyone) and there are even better places in London as a cursory overview of andy hayler's blog will show, riaz

Anonymous said...

Your bill says Crianza (a red wine) not sherry...

Chris Pople said...

Lucy/Anon: I can't help but love Tayyabs despite the shonky service but yes, it was mainly a point made in jest - I realise it's not for everyone.

Anon: Yes strange that, we definitely had a bottle of Amontillado though!

Jon Clayson said...

Wow that looks incredible. The colours have me salivating so can only imagine how it would have tasted. Very jelous but thank you for the fantastic review!

Anonymous said...

Tayyabs, Lucy I agree, the sizilling lamb chops were great, that was the end of it. The staff were OK. That looks like a Kebap in the picture.