Spanish tapas is a well established cuisine in the UK. Since the expansion of cheap package holidays to southern Spain, the imported knowledge from these trips makes us familiar with old favourites like pollo ajillo and patatas bravas.
It’s taken restaurants like nearby Barrafina to bring more unfamiliar dishes like chipirones and morcilla to the attention of British tapas fans. Located in the heart of Soho, Copita is a tapas restaurant but it’s a completely innovative menu, even to a tapas fan like me.
I had lunch here on a weekday, a little trick I use to dine at places which are packed in the evenings. The casual dining room was quiet, which was no reflection on the food, I was soon to happily discover.
Confronted by a barrage of unfamiliar yet mouthwatering options, I sought advice from my server. I had already decided on smoked anchovies and pork crackling as I’m partial to pork crackling. She told me a bestseller was crispy cauliflower with red pepper sauce. I then went with the braised short rib for protein but not before the presa iberica (pork) had given it a very close run for its money.
The pork crackling was exemplary – crunchy without too much fat. The anchovies were plump and oily and served with pickled shallots possessing enough sourness to cut through the richness. I enjoyed both components but thought they tasted better if eaten separately.
The crispy cauliflower was a revelation. Anyone who calls cauliflower boring will change their tune once they’ve tried this. Charred at high heat, the cauliflower acquired a great barbecue crispy outer layer and the sweet pepper sauce was a perfect foil.
Finally, the beef short rib, a cut sadly seen all too rarely in the UK. This kitchen understands slow cooking. The generous slab came on the bone and was fork tender with some gravy and potato purée to keep it company. It tastes as good as it looks!
Food: ★★★★☆ Service: ★★★★☆ Ambiance: ★★★★☆ VFM: ★★★☆☆ Overall: ★★★★☆
Price: Expect to pay about £15-20 a head but the food is worth it
27, D’Arblay Street, Soho, London W1F 8EP