Although Kopapa opened more than a year ago, it’s only recently that I ate there with my friends Toni and Luca for our regular catch up meeting. We always try something different and since I’ve got an ever-growing list of places to eat, I thought we should try something. My rule for trying places is generally to avoid going as soon as a place opens. Those that manage to last more than a year are probably doing okay.
Kopapa is another Peter Gordon outlet. Known as the chef who manages to mix different ingredients sourced from different areas, and had the exception Anna Hansen of The Modern Pantry as his protege I thought things would be pretty good. To get the most of the experience, we split all the small plates amongst us favouring to share our food rather than order large meals individually. The bread basket (above) was okay including a mixture of interesting breads and a generous portion of balsamic and oil mixture.
We tried the Burrata with tomato salad, mint & black vinegar Medjool dates. Classically creamy and an interesting mix of the sweet dates helped contrast the overall richness of the salad. On the other hand the potato, pepper, caramelised onion, spinach & feta tortilla with black olive dressing was probably just best left as a normal tortilla. I found the black olive dressing especially overpowering and could not taste the sweetened vegetables contained in the midst.
The Deep-fried Sichuan pepper & chilli salted squid, smoked aioli was another disappointment for me with the squid barely spiced and the aioli hardly smoked. I could taste the sichuan pepper and that dish deserved more heat than a dog in breeding season. I found the squid tepid and lifeless instead of the crunchiness I’d hoped for.
On the other hand I would probably order two of the Crispy soft-shell crab & ham hock, pickled carrot, lychee, cucumber & peanut dressing. Though more pricey than the other dishes at almost £10, this was a great dish of complex flavours and textures that I wanted to go back to time and time again. Half a soft-shell crab came on the side of the salad and guessing (hoping!) the rest was chopped up throughout the dish. You can also see the Char-grilled Iberico pork with piquillo pepper salsa in the background of the dish. Nicely cooked though nothing particularly memorable.
The Spring rolls of slow roasted duck, Sichuan pepper, feta & guindilla chillies, tamarind aioli were slightly more successful. Each roll was generously stuffed unlike those you might find in a Chinese restaurant and the tamarind aioli providing an earthiness to the dish. Once again I couldn’t taste the sichuan pepper.
The Rare seared Yellowfin tuna, green mango, hijiki & coriander salad, nori sauce was lovingly well made. You can see the searing process done perfectly and finely balanced against its other asian-inspired counterparts.
We also ordered this Beef short rib that was only on the menu for the evening (so missing all the components). A little bit more classic british but extremely soft and well seasoned. We also tried their rosemary salt fries after reading about recommendations on it. We had to remind them of this side that then looked slightly as if they’d run off to McDonalds for their shoe string fries to dispense with their own rosemary salt. Not particularly noteworthy on this visit I’m afraid.
I guess they change their menu regularly and was looking forward to a black sesame creme brulee that happened to be replaced by the classic creme catalan on the night. On the recommendation of the waiter I tried the Peanut butter parfait with Original Beans 75% Piura Criollo chocolate delice, sea salt caramel & chocolate crumble . A good choice as well that had rich flavours, good contrast of creamy, crunch and texture that a good dessert needs.
We had some good wine and an espresso to finish our meal off.
I’m torn about my visit to Kopapa. Some of the dishes turned out wonderful. Others, less so and I think this is the danger of an ever changing menu and fusion cuisine. Rather than paying for a dish honed and perfected over a season, it feels like you’re slightly the guinea pig for another restaurant and you’re paying for the privilege as well.
Fortunately the staff definitely earned their 12.5% service with someone at hand when we wanted to move courses, or finally order the bill without the wait staff in your face. They were friendly and courteous and definitely helped the evening be a success.