Itchy wasn’t immediately convinced by Copita’s more-bar-than-restaurant vibe. Even early on a Tuesday evening the place was a little unpleasantly noisy, filled with trendy City-types perched on tall bar stools at inconveniently small tables. It’s self-consciously ‘authentic’, we thought, with its terracotta bowls and untranslated Spanish menu that forces you to surreptitiously google the dishes on your phone in order to avoid looking ignorant in front of your fellow diners.
It was with some reservation, then, that we clambered gracelessly onto our bar stools to peruse the menu. Faced with a page of tapas dishes we didn’t recognise – Copita is not a tortilla kind of place – we quickly ordered a bottle of house white. This was the first pleasant surprise of the evening. At £18 it’s not the cheapest drink we’ve ever had but it was delicious and got the meal off to a good start.
With a little Dutch courage behind us we were now ready to face the menu. The duck egg yolk on a smoky piquillo pepper with white truffle was a novelty but sounded more flavoursome than it actually was. The chorizo was fantastic and a very generous serving for £4, while the ajo blanco – a cold garlic and almond soup with balsamic vinegar – was completely delicious. The scallops in a rich, buttery sauce were good, but almost £7 for just two scallops seemed a little brazen. Overall we were impressed, though we would have been left hungry if we hadn’t ordered a lot of bread on the side.
By this point our bottle of wine was looking decidedly empty and we were beginning to enjoy the bar-like ambience. The small tables, it turns out, force you to sit closer together creating a really social atmosphere, and the stools make the restaurant feel relaxed.
With our thoughts on pudding we ordered a custard tart and – the absolute highlight of the evening – a blood orange sorbet with fennel. It was unusual in the best possible way and we’ll definitely be going back for more.
So it was on that note that we fell merrily off our bar stools and back onto Oxford Street. Having tried Copita, we think all restaurants should be more like bars. We went in as sceptics but we stumbled out as fans.
Copita is at no.26 d’Arblay Street, London, W1F 8E.