32 Monmouth Street, London
The trend of small plate eating has taken London by storm. A recent venture to join the bandwagon, in Covent Garden, is Kopapa. It sits pretty on Monmouth Street (check out its worthy neighbours Monmouth Coffee House and Kiehl’s cosmetics), and has garnered largely positive reviews from London’s food bloggers.
An all day café, restaurant and bar in the chic-boutique Seven Dials district, its founder and co-owner is ‘fusion king’ Peter Gordon, a Kiwi chef who has already tried and tested his formula at the great but pricey Providores in Marylebone.
On a lunch-hour dash, time was not on our side. The menu didn’t help, resembling as it did a hyperactive child: hard to get a grip on and rather quixotic. Lists of light meals, quick bites, platters, tapas, mains, sides, in no particular order. Where to start? I had a budget, which helped. The rest was down to potluck and a dining partner with a decisive disposition.
Shichimi-crusted baked tofu with shiitake, carrot & miso mustard dressing, £5.50. Being a devoted carnivore, this isn’t what I’d choose to eat, and I didn’t. I stole some from my friend Sarah’s plate. It was surprisingly tasty, though I think it was the seasoning I preferred over the protein. Sarah loved it.
Cassava chips with avocado, sriracha chilli sauce and crème fraîche, £5. Moreish. A puffed-up plantain/parsnip is the best description I can come up with. The sauces brought the fluffy chips to life. I last had cassava chips at The Modern Pantry, a fantastic fusion place in Farringdon, run by Anna Hansen (another chef hailing from New Zealand, and an old team mate of Peter Gordon’s). Cassava clearly beats the humble potato when you’re in fusion territory.
Steamed and salted edamame, £4. They couldn’t have (and didn’t) go wrong with these.
Lovely pillowy flatbread and babaganoush with olives, £3.50. A perfect snack with drinks. I could have skipped the larger dishes and just gone from this to dessert, which sadly we didn’t have time for.
Garlic sautéed chicken livers on focaccia with grapes, red onion jam and Muscat jus, £7.80. Cooked perfectly, but perhaps a touch too sweet for my taste. One of the too-mean-to-be-main, but too-big-to-be-tapas dishes (aka ‘small plates’).
This was comfort food, and it met the brief.
I’d have liked to try dessert, and some of the Asian-influenced dishes, to get a better grip on the menu, and the breakfast offerings look special (as do the puds). If fusion and innovation is their ‘thing’, I want to taste it.
Until then, I recommend it as a good place for lunch, and probably a great place for breakfast and brunch (going on the reviews of bloggers I trust). If you are there for lunch, have bread, one dish, one salad, and a sobering sparkling water and you’ll get change from £20.