Monday, 17 January 2011

A Fabulous Fusion of Friends & Food...

How much more alliteration can I cram into one title??
Readers of my other blog will probably have spotted that one of my favourite London restaurants is The Providores. Paul & I have loved Peter Gordon's stylish, innovative, beautiful restaurant for many years now. We even had our wedding lunch there! One of my other favourite memories of the place is when we ate there together with 4 other friends for my birthday dinner about 8 years ago. Paul told the waiting staff that I was a chef & asked if Peter was cooking & if so, would it be possible to meet him? I was absolutely mortified! This was at about 8.45pm on a busy Saturday evening. Surely no chef on earth would welcome a stranger into his domain at such a time (I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have!) Well, to my utter amazement and considerable pleasure, Mr Gordon was only too happy...he even invited me dowstairs to the kitchen, to be shown around! An incredibly generous & kind gesture. And knowing Peter a little now as I do, since he co-tutored the  Arvon food writing course I took last Summer, I realise that this generosity & warmth wasn't a one-off. The man has style!

He, together with Michael McGrath-his partner at The Providores- and 2 others, recently opened a new venture in Covent Garden, Kopapa.

Paul & I first visited a couple of weeks after opening, on Boxing Day for brunch. That's when the picture above was taken. Not a great day to test a restaurant...but we were in need of good coffee,a glass of prosecco, a plate of something tasty and full flavoured, and a pleasant space to relax.

We weren't disappointed on any of these counts. But I wanted to go back for lunch and the real Kopapa experience!

So last Wednesday, I met my good friend, Arvon compatriot & fellow blogger Hummus Boy for a late lunch in rainy, warm London. The restaurant is much lighter and more open than The Providores...more cafe-like, less intimate...with a swish dark green velvet curtain to shield diners from draughts at the door (very Salzburg!)  The Boy is a confirmed carnivore (read the fascinating recent post on his trip to Iceland a week or so ago!) so we decided on a selection from the tapas menu, to include his desired Parmesan & Bone Marrow on Toast with Chrain...and one main course:

a Tempura spicy dahl stuffed inari pocket on sugar snaps with caramelised coconut, plantain fritter, pickled green papaya & coriander (one thing about Peter Gordon's food is that the menu descriptions are novellas..and you need to be Mr Memory to recall them!) We both had work/driving to do later, so we each had a non-alcoholic Tamarillo Daiquiri to drink...
so gorgeous to look at, and sweet/sour/refreshing to the was easier to sip, as the seeds from the tamarillo caught in the straw!

We started with some stunning, chargrilled flatbreads and chunky, smoky aubergine babaganoush - something I could eat all day. I'll leave The Boy to describe the meat and fish elements of the meal...standouts for me included the plate of cassava chips with avocado, sriricha chili sauce (a thin, hot thai condiment) and creme fraiche (reading the Boy's blogpost of the same lunch I've noted with embarrassment that I hogged this plate to myself and he didn't even get one to try....

can you blame me?) The cassava was like a sturdy parsnip..sweet & mealy on the inside and crisp on the outside...the little prickles of heat from the chili, cooled down by the avocado and creme fraiche were perfect.
I also loved the char-grilled aubergine with tamarind caramel, pickled ginger and za'atar...

and wished again that we weren't sharing!! True to his nature, Peter (who wasn't cooking that day) had asked his chefs to send us up some complimentary dishes the end, what had started as a chance for the two of us to meet up and chat about food, writing and life became a massive foodfest...we even had to push two tables together to hold all the plates! The day was made even more special when another mutual and very welcome friend joined us for coffee. Unfortunately, he'd already eaten! But we persuaded him to help us clear the table all the same!

So, Kopapa...not so much of a restaurant in feel or look as The Provs...perfect for the all-day dining approach. The food is light, bright & perfectly balanced...also priced incredibly reasonably for this standard of cooking. I loved it - I may be a little biased, but I still loved it. It's my kind of food, and I can think of no better place to while away a few hours in Covent Garden. I'm planning my next visit already!

Kopapa - 8.5/10


  1. Lovely post, Rachel - I wish I could have been there with you. Actually, I'm planning my visit to Kopapa, I'm really curious about the place. But if you say it's good - so it must be. Anyway, with Peter's ideas you can't go wrong, can you...?

  2. My mouth is watering! How gorgeous. Thanks I almost feel like I was with you! xxxxxxxxx

  3. Sounds great! I love getting recommendations for london eating! xxx


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