Copita, 26-27 D'Arblay Street, London W1

Perfect for courting couples, tapas bar Copita is less comfortable for everyone else

Some joints are so obviously designed for couples in the early stages of courtship that, should you go along with the intention of securing a table for four, you can immediately feel the soft stigma of social exclusion. This is us in Copita. It's a buzzy little tapas station in the middle of Soho, but we're not here to advance any amorous schemes, so we feel a little out of place.

If you need confirmation of its suitability for a date – second or third, I'd suggest (not snazzy enough for a first outing, but saucy enough for one soon after) – just look at the clientele. Barely two months after opening, it is heaving with thirsty, smart young folk, the sort who spend all day asking clients what their social-media strategy is or advising on brand optimisation.

Plus, just about every other feature of the eating experience here seems date-friendly. For one, the music is loud, though not as ear-crunching as the raucous din of the diners, which means I find it hard to hear the person opposite speak. Then there are the staff, who swarm about the place with constant smiles but only a passing interest in the food: three questions about the contents of arriving dishes are met with incredulity, suggesting their priority is a quick turnover. In fact their fleeting presence gives the whole meal a sense of transit, so that even on sitting down it feels as though we're moving.

And unfortunately, the actual act of sitting down is painful. The stools are very high and the tables are higher; devoid of back support, it feels slightly like eating on a hovercraft, and woe betide the poor romantic rascal who turns up with a bad back and might well leave with a chronically aching one.

I saw six people stretch their legs halfway through the meal, like people on a flight taking a walk to stave off deep-vein thrombosis. This, too, is a feature fit for the young only. A family of four could not eat comfortably here.

And what of the food? Ah, yes. Mostly it is excellent. Compared with some other tapas joints in central London – Polpo, Polpetto, Spuntino, Opera Tavern – it's cheap here, but still high in quality. The spiced carrots (£2.50) and crunchy purple-sprouting broccoli with not-quite-enough blue cheese (£3.50) are excellent. The perfectly moist but solid duck-egg yolk with piquillo (a pepper from north Spain) and white truffle (£5.95) looks like a plate of steak tartare, and exceeds expectations. The winter vegetables and quince (£4.50) include a wonderfully roasted beetroot.

Boquerones – large anchovies – come with onion and garlic (£2.50) and are unexceptional, but the scallops in a fishy butter sauce (£5.50) are the opposite, sweet and juicy and muscular. The home-made butifarra with piquillo and chickpea (£5.95) is not as interesting as it sounds: under-seasoned and reminiscent of the beanburger from the school canteen. Too grainy to be tasty.

Lashings of oil on all these plates can be soaked up by the copious supply of delicious bread, baskets of which are refilled to order.

In all, and aside from the starters and hams, there are five vegetable, five fish, and five meat dishes. There is a cheeseboard – La Peral, Payoyo, and Ermesenda – which is not hard to get right, and fine for £11; but like many of the other servings, felt about 20 per cent too small.

The desserts, however, are even smaller. A custard tart (£2.50) is Greggs-the-baker level; a lemon sorbet with cava in a champagne flute (£3.50) is superb; a sweet ajo blanco – baked, glazed beetroot with almond and sugar in a white sauce – (£3.95) is sensational; and a blood-orange sorbet with fennel pollen (£4.50) is the perfect palate cleanser to finish.

There are sherrys from £4.20 to £9.65, which is about right for a place whose name means "sherry glass" and white and red wines from £18. Tim Luther, the part-owner who is also behind Barrica tapas bar in nearby Goodge Street, is extremely charming and has created an excited room with delicious food. He says that he doesn't take bookings because he wants people to feel that Copita is somewhere you might try your luck and return to if your first attempt was disappointing.

Like I said, eager young romantics.

7/10

Scores: 1-3 stay home and cook, 4 needs help, 5 does the job, 6 flashes of promise, 7 good, 8 special, can't wait to go back, 9-10 as good as it gets

Copita 26-27 D'Arblay Street, London W1, tel: 020 7287 7797 Breakfast, lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday. About £140 for four with three bottles of wine

Tip-top tapas

Iberico

The Shire Hall, High Pavement, Lace Market, Nottingham, tel: 0115 941 0410

It's not just the intimate cellar environment that makes this lively bar worth seeking out – the authentic tapas are beltingly good, too

Salt House

Hanover Street, Liverpool, tel: 0151 706 0092

Amazingly good tapas (some classics, and some more inventive dishes) win praise for this new city-centre operation

Evuna

277-279 Deansgate, Manchester, tel: 0161 819 2752

The best tapas in Manchester (and some fantastic vinos, too) make it well worth trying out this Spanish wine house in the city centre

Reviews extracted from 'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2011' www.hardens.com

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
football
Sport
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
News
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine