In Spanish, ‘Copita’ means sherry glass, which succinctly conveys the focus of this new Soho wine bar. The bar stools are high, the room small, and on busy evenings, it’s standing room only. Just like many tapas bar in Spain.
We visited on a Friday night: too busy, too loud, no seats free. So we revisited for lunch. Twice. And so this becomes a tale of two tapas bars: one that’s rammed on a Friday night like every other bar, pavement and cobblestone in west Soho, but one that’s a culinary destination the rest of the time.
One of the owners is Tim Luther, formerly of Albion Wine Shippers (his other place is Barrica tapas bar on Goodge Street). Although the list of Spanish wines doesn’t approach the ambition of, say, Cambio de Tercio in South Kensington – which has every Spanish wine you could want, and then some – Copita’s list is easier to navigate and better signposted.
The 40 table wines by the glass are marked with a ‘ traffic light’ system indicating light, medium, or full-bodied. Wines are then listed – a bit confusingly – by grape variety, or producer.
The focus is on lesser-known and better-value regions, such as Toro and Jumilla; but more obivous ones are there too, such as Rioja and Ribera del Duero.
With a name like ‘copita’ you might expect a huge sherry list, but the list isn’t massively long – though it does have good representatives of all the styles, from crisp, dry fino to raisiny, dessert-like Pedro Ximénez.
There’s also a properly Spanish selection of other drinks, such as pacharán, the sloe-flavoured liqueur.
The tapas portions are correctly Spanish-sized – that is, tiny nibbles.
The cutlery is also airline-meal sized, to scale.
We were so impressed with executive chef James Knight’s dishes, though, that we went back, and ate our way through almost the entire menu. And we can recommend everything.
Baked duck egg was served with aromatic girolles, smoky peppers and tiny shavings of summer truffles; simple, but perfect. Own-made ‘botiffara’ – the Catalan sausage – was unctuous and faggot-like, but lip-smacking and luscious, the fattiness of the pork cut with big caperberries.
Ajo blanco – the Andalucian white soup made from almonds with a hint of garlic (ajo) – was barely enough to fill an egg-cup, but the flavours transported us to Seville. Razor clam – singular – and chervil root was a stroke of genius, the contrast of textures a delight.
The cheese board had an impeccable selection of Manchego, the blue cheese Picos de Europa and a firm Andalucian goat/sheep blend called Payoyo, with a pert membrillo (quince paste) to cleanse the palate. The charcuterie, such as the salami-like morcilla de bellota, dark but waxy in texture, was also tip-top.
We raise our glasses to Copita.