Likes it, likes it, really likes it, doesn’t like it, likes it, doesn’t like it – a quick scan of the Urbanspoon thumbs up-or-down sadly reveals no clear consensus on Seven Dials fusion restaurant Kopapa, and I’m afraid I’m not going to be much help either. I liked it, really liked it, didn’t like it, wasn’t sure, thought I liked it, then sorta liked it, during the course of my 45 minute visit last week.
Self-styled as “the home of the most exciting and innovative fusion food in Seven Dials” (a claim as bold as saying Ed Sheeran’s the most exciting and innovative artist in the UK Top 40 this week), Kopapa is the latest in a short line of places from ‘fusion’ chef (turns out the phrase is still used) Peter Gordon. AKA the man behind the Providores. AKA generally agreed to be a genius. And at first the greeting was good: complementary umbrella coverage to ferry stranded girlfriends across the roundabout; warm smiles from the receptionist; a bustling brasserie of chessboard tiles and polished brass. Then we got switched to the cheeky waitress (“which table is yours? Oh, the only empty one I guess”) and slotted into a snug gap between six other diners and left for quarter of an hour.
Swings and roundabouts, then, and our disorientating trip to the playground continued throughout. Duck liver parfait with watermelon pickle and toasted sourdough was sex on a plate. And I don’t mean quick fumble or DSK force feed, I’m talking tantric threesome joyous communion kind of stuff. The parfait was as slinky as meat fruit and a crunchy, flame-toasted brûlée topping was inspired, while the carby corner was toast charred to perfection. Seven quid, and worth every penny (or at least six hundred of them).
Kopapa is an all day dining, menu-changes-monthly, chef-runs-wild kind of place, a mish-mash of ideas and cultures where you can nibble on olives, nuts, flatbreads, edamame and chorizo, tuck into cheese, pig and mixed platters, and feast on schizoid dishes like juniper cured beef with thyme oil and gin & tonic tapioca or roast pork belly on white-lime leaf polenta with chili pickled plums, sorrel and hot ‘n sour coconut jus. I say feast, these are mere morsels. Don’t be fooled by the £8-18 price tags. One plateful will not suffice.
My fiancée had a face like thunder and hellfire when a seared yellowfin tune with wasabi tobikko, green papaya and coriander salad w/ nori sauce turned up. We were on our way to Tree Of Life and had three hours on a rock hard Odeon cushion to look forward to (it was worth it, though). This was clearly going to leave a jumbo popcorn-shaped hole in the belly. The kind of ‘main’ only a Londoner would fall for.
Slow cooked lamb spring rolls on my side of the tablette (‘table’ would be a bit generous), meanwhile, were dry, bland, tepid and sat next to a salad garnish I inadvertantly picked up in one forkfull. If this was from the same family as the duck liver parfait it was bringing shame on them all.
We arrived at Kopapa after a week of rain, beaten by work, low on fuel and with the serotonin gauge running in the red. We needed welcome arms round us, a warm blanket of conviviality thrown over our shoulders, and a procession of the promised eccentric, borderline genius foodie delights brought forth to raise our spirits (let alone fortify us for Terence Malick). We got some of that, sporadically. I liked it though. Kind of. Or maybe not.
Price Per Head: £22
Clientele: Post-work, pre-theatre, tourist, foodie – the kind of mix every restaurateur dreams of.