Kopapa: A Tasty Contemporary Spin on Traditional British Fare
32-34 Monmouth Street
Seven Dials, Covent Gardens, London, England
Right at the heart of the Seven Dials in Covent Gardens, London is famed chef, Peter Gordon‘s restaurant, Kopapa. At first, the restaurant was hard to find on a rainy London night. We were still getting used to the fact that in London, street name signs are displayed on the building, see below photo. In North America, street names are glaringly obvious, written on big signs hanging from traffic lights or displayed tall on posts at street corners. By the time we found Kopapa, it was so fully booked that we couldn’t even get a table for 2 hours and it was on a Wednesday night! We gave up and came back the next morning for brunch.
With its hip and trendy decor and loud pop music playing in the background, Kopapa is famous for its contemporary spin on traditional British dishes, which was perfect for our brunch since a little global influence really curbs the homesickness. As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by two scrumptious trays of muffins near our table so naturally we had to order one of those to start. I chose the one with the fluffiest icing: the red orange and date muffin topped smartly with a stylish pouf of mascarpone icing.
The muffin was as tasty as it was good-looking, moist on the inside but firm enough so it would never be mistaken for a cupcake, and the icing was light, airy and sinfully sweet: the perfect vacation morning pick-me-up.
We also ordered a hot chocolate that came with two homemade marshmallows. The marshmallows were firmer than store bought ones and less powdery, they tasted delicious.
Now, how could we have an English breakfast without ordering the unofficial National breakfast dish: a real British fry-up. I chose the bacon fry-up that came with two eggs, buttered toast (I chose sourdough), grilled smoked streaky bacon, sauteed buttered field mushroom and slow-roasted tomatoes.
The tomatoes came out a little mushy but still juicy. You’d think they would dry up like prunes after being slow-roasted. The bacon was tasty, it was salty but not in an over-processed way like those sodium slices of guilty goodness in Canada’s Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwiches. I loved the grilled marks on the bacon, hence the name. And to be perfectly honestly, I liked that the bacon was not overly crispy, sometimes I enjoy chewing a little fat that isn’t charred to a crispy, crunchy cracker.
I wasn’t a fan of the mushrooms in this dish since they really did taste very earthy, adding a strong, overbearing flavour that threw off the more bland taste of the poached eggs. I should have probably ordered my eggs scrambled with seasoning to stand up to the other flavours.
The great thing about poached eggs though is the luscious, runny yolk, bleeding all its orange goodness all over the plate only to be mopped up by a ready piece of toast. The toast was good; firm and not soggy tucked under all the items in the fry-up. I’ve noticed though that bread in London is a lot firmer than the soft bread we’re used to in Canada.
Next we ordered Kopapa’s contemporary spin on Eggs Benedict: Hot-smoked salmon on toasted sourdough with spinach with two poached eggs and yuzu hollandaise sauce.
I loved the rich and creamy hollandaise sauce that lay like a thick blanket over this breakfast sandwich. The sauce had just the right amount of citrus tang and smooth consistency that is the trademark of an Eggs Benedict. However, as much as I loved the sourdough toast, I would have preferred to have eaten this off of an English muffin, the traditional component of an Eggs Benedict. I guess I am a traditional girl at heart.
The salmon was perfectly smoked, tender and flaky and the spinach also added more texture to the sandwich and rounded out the fresh lemon flavours of the hollandaise and the smokey flavours of the salmon.
If there was one thing that I wanted to try in England, it was the traditional dish: Black Pudding. Made of solidified pig’s blood along with meat scraps and seasoning, Black Pudding is one of the components of a Full English Breakfast. The other components of a Full English Breakfast are half a tomato, eggs, sausage, bacon and mushroom, which are the items that we tried in the fry-up. I thought the Black Pudding was something unique to try. And yes, while eating it, I visualized myself on an episode of Fear Factor. It’s not evident in the photos but I was able to finish it (barely).
When the two coal black patties came to our table, they were larger than I had imagined and the consistency was interesting. The meat was very crumbly, and the taste was a complete mixture of saltiness, a hint of spice, definitely some fatty flavours and a few other notes of flavours that I could not place but lingered on my tongue for a while. The patties were very filling so I can see why they are included in a Full English Breakfast. Black Pudding reminds me a lot of Taiwanese liver sausage in its crumbly texture, colour and salty aftertaste. I don’t think I’ll eat it again, but I can now cross it off my global tasting list.
I would like to visit Kopapa for dinner and dessert. Maybe next time I’ll make reservations! I was impressed by the service. When our waiter found out we were from out-of-town, he gave us lots of tips on all the cool nooks and crannies to explore around Covent Gardens.