I am trying to remember if there was a time when restaurants didn’t offer a menu of sharing plates? If so, I honestly can’t remember it. In particular, sharing plates of ‘fusion cuisine’ – which seem to have become a culinary fashion staple. Perhaps it’s the little black dress equivalent for foodies….
With guests of honour in town from Iowa City (Little Bro and his equivalent-professor wife), I was under pressure to find somewhere alternative, quirky and, of course, delicious for them to review with Him and me. Their dining schedule for the week already resembled a Time Out guide as they caught up with old friends and extended family. The pressure was on.
Having recently spotted the Kiwi maestro, Peter Gordon (spatula in hand) at the Marylebone Summer Fayre, I was reminded that the very popular Providores is not his only outlet. 60-seater restaurant café, Kopapa opened its doors at Covent Garden’s Seven Dials at the end of 2010 and was still very much on my hit list.
As pseudo tourists, we arrived by hilarious tuk-tuk and, taking our seats by the window, immediately perused the drinks menu. Always one for a cocktail, I opted for a curiously-sounding wasabitini (£9.50), while the others, gasping for a perfect white, choose the Pegasus Bay (£37.50). Neither disappointed and both made ordering even easier. The menu at Kopapa is precisely detailed. It needs to be as the food is a gastronomic explosion. If I write that our taste buds were stimulated, you will all laugh. But, in truth, they were. To list the ingredients of everything we tried would leave me with a review looking more like a pretentious shopping list.
Among our sharing plate favourites were salt cod fritters (£5.50), miso asparagus with fennel salad (£8.20), spring rolls of duck, feta and guindilla chillies with tamarind aioli (£8.10) and buffalo mozzarella with tomato salad, mint and black vinegar Medjool dates (£7.20). We also consumed a fabulous sharing platter of grilled chorizo, pickled cucumber, hummus, olive, Manchego cheese, babaganoush (£10.50)… need I go on?
If you pushed me to find a negative, the slightly soft pickled cucumber would have got it in the neck. Others might have added that Kopapa’s casual café interior doesn’t do the gastronomic experience any favours. Personally, I loved the low key feel and would describe it as edgy and cool while also slightly eccentric.
I had been tipped off by a fellow food lover to save room for the plate of homemade biscuits and chocolates (£6.50) and, although I hadn’t, I managed admirably. The transatlantic catch-up had been fueled by an onslaught of small sharing plates of utterly mind-blowing food.
The only issue has been that we had had to share them.
Kopapa, 32-34 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials, Covent Garden, London WC2
This article appeared on Culture Compass where I love to review food….