Loud music. Great food and drinks. Brilliant service. A Thursday night classic for those with weekend-envy.
Photo credits: copita.co.uk
Instantly memorable atmosphere
In the middle of Soho, with outdoor seating of garden tables and chairs strewn on the pavement in front of the restaurant, Copita gives off a casual atmosphere even from a distance. As you approach the tapas bar, the living aura of the restaurant embraces you. The chatter from its Millennial and Gen Z clientele over the loud alternative rock music emanating from within the restaurant gives you the instant premonition for the good night close at hand. This feeling is even more prominent when you step into the busy restaurant. Its décor can be likened to a pub with its dark, wooden bar-height tables and stools that line the walls and run parallel in the space. The long tables are shared by groups of diners which add to Copita's casual, social atmosphere.
About the quality tapas and drinks
The food on the other hand is not a casual affair. Neither are the drinks. Sangrias come in large, welcoming goblets, and the tapas are delectably presented.
It is recommended by the restaurant to order 2-3 tapas per person from any of their 4 categories of the menu: starters, vegetables, seafood, and meats. We'll talk about desserts later; that's a separate category. If you are a group of 4 (my recommended party size) you would be able to try around 10 plates - which is absolutely delightful given the long, mouthwatering menu on offer. With a table of 4, everyone will have at least 2 spoonfuls of whichever tapas to go for.
First things first, there is the iberico ham. Order it with some bread & olives and there is no better way to start. Take a sip of that sangria and you are set for a good night. Easy.
Their 'truffled goat's cheese, almond & honey' is a must. If you're not a big fan of cheese, no worries, you will be after a bite of this dish. The tart, gamey kick of the goats cheese is mellowed out beautifully by the honey and the strong earthy truffles. The soft billowy cheese can be spread on their crunchy crostini and topped with their toasted almond flakes. There is an instant feeling of luxury from a bite of this tapas. Not a bad mid-week feeling I must say.
It's hard to follow from a dish as perfectly balanced as the truffled goats cheese, but Copita's 'burnt aubergine, labneh, pomegranate & nuts' is a beautiful transition from the strong delivery of the former. The char of the aubergine matches the remanent strength of goats cheese. Its smokiness focuses your attention on this new dish in front of you - the soft creamy textures of the cooked aubergine, labneh and olive oil. The pops of freshness from the pomegranate and the crunch of nuts makes this dish a balanced, tasteful palate cleanser.
Next up, I would recommend the 'mushroom croquettes'. The batter is crisp and thin, and it holds within the warmth of a mushroom forest. If you are a mushroom lover, this one is right up your alley.
My final recommendation from the vegetables section would be their 'tenderstem brocolli, manchego, romesco'. Crunchy greens complimented by the freshness of tomatoes and the salty creaminess of manchego. It's a clean finish for the vegetables and a good prep for the seafood and meats to come.
Let's talk about this.
Copita's 'scallops, celeriac purée, chorizo dressing' may sound gentle at first glance, but its flavour profile is anything but. The scallops are seared till golden brown on both sides, with a centre still pearly and almost translucent. That's a melt-in-the-mouth kind of perfection. The purée mimics the softness of the scallops, giving the extra smoothness you didn't know was necessary. Then comes the chorizo with its spicy oils. Its a powerful flavour that brings out the sear on the scallops, as well as the delicateness of its taste when juxtaposed with the attention-grabbing sausage. Couldn't have asked for a better transition to seafood tapas than this.
The go-to after would be the 'grilled squid, mussels, black ink rice'. It has the salty, fragrant depth of the ocean that comes from very fresh seafood, i.e. umami if you want to be scientific about it. The creaminess and silkiness of the rice makes you concentrate all the more on the nutty, saltiness of the sea. The garlicky alioli and the nuggets of mussels accentuate this flavour further. And the squid? On point. Soft without a hint of chewiness. You are practically swimming in the tastes of the Mediterranean with each bite.
Its hard to continue with the meal after the climax of the seafoods, but somehow Copita manages to wow palates even with its meats. Specifically, their 'lamb rump, seaweed & sumac yoghurt, peas' packs a flavourful punch. The lamb rump is beautifully browned on the outside, with a crust that encapsulates the tender, slightly pink centre. The meat sits gently on the zingy yoghurt and mellow peas. For meat lovers, this is like a friendly hug from Copita. It doesn't disappoint.
Or dessert as it's usually called.
After all that excitement from the tapas, you are comforted by the fact that you only have one round of surprises left; there is only so much you can take in one meal. Which is why, the 'apple & plum crumble with rosemary ice cream' was my go-to. The familiarity of a light crumble is exactly what you need after such a gustatory adventure. The cooked fruits are light and mellow, the crumble gives the expected sweetness and crunch whilst the rosemary ice cream gives the humble crumble the anticipated differential twist of unique elegance.
A place you would have on your mind to go back to
Copita is a restaurant you would not forget about. The food, the drinks, the atmosphere. The food. With it's wide selection of tapas, you would definitely want to go back for the rest of the menu. If one third of it is already so brilliant, imagine the rest!
Call your friends. Treat yourself. Vamos, it's a night out.
*A bonus about Copita is that, unlike many famous London joints, a table can be reserved online (don't try calling, the line's always busy)!
So plan ahead with your friends. Great food and drinks come with the booking.