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April, 2016

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After a trip to the Phoenix Theatre, we wanted nibbles afterwards. Knowing I’d just returned from Japan, my friend Ann suggested Chotto Matte with its Japanese/Peruvian fusion cuisine. Having looked at the menu (which was very expensive), I found all the things I hated – raw fish, tofu and miso soup. I gave her an emphatic, No, No, No.

Instead we settled on a much safer option: “Kopapa”:http://www.kopapa.co.uk/ run by a group of New Zealanders including Peter Gordon who’s published a number of cookery books. Now apart from the obvious lamb, I’d have struggled to think of any Kiwi foods but on exploring the menu online, and particularly the small plates section, there were lots of things that I knew would tickle my taste buds.

Whilst there is a two and three course pre-theatre meal option, we decided to share five small plates (average price £7). I’ve listed below how the dishes were described on the menu so you can see how enticing they sound (along with our verdict).

Grilled flat bread, babaganoush and olives – was a safe start and something to nibble on. The aubergine dip was tasty and it was soon devoured.

Tiger prawn and chorizo Scotch egg, Aleppo chilli sambal, Serrano ham crisp, grilled Padrón pepper – this looked fantastic (see the photo) and raised the humble pub snack into a masterpiece. I couldn’t taste the tiger prawn in the outer coating, but the yolk was golden and runny. The combination of the spicy chorizo and what I’d describe as the chilli jam was to die for. This was my favourite dish.

Spiced taro and sweet corn fritter, smoked caponata, mint yoghurt – it was slightly disappointing that the waitress had to ask what taro was, but having checked, said it was similar to a potato. The generous fritter also had lots of peppery rocket piled on top which went beautifully with the minty topping (although it did make it slightly more difficult to share).

Steamed dumpling of Scottish lobster, scallops & cod, shaved fennel, grilled pineapple & Israeli couscous salad, kalamansi kaffir lime dressing – was the least attractive looking dish in that it looked like an anemic roll of mashed potato. However, the taste was much better and we loved the fruity salad it was sat on.

Tempura spicy dhal inari pocket, caramelised coconut, pickled green papaya, curly kale – is hard to describe but it was basically pasty filled with curry flavoured lentils. The coconut underneath was superb and the curly kale green and crisp.

You may think that after this, we couldn’t eat anything else. Normally I wouldn’t have, but Ann tempted me into sharing a peanut butter and chocolate fudge square topped with a quenelle of rich chocolate mousse sat on butterscotch sauce, and scattered with chocolate biscuit ‘breadcrumbs’. It was to die for and far too big (and expensive at £8.50) for one person but it was ideal to share.

Our total bill with a bottle of Domaine la Grangette, Picpoul, Languedoc, France was £85. Tap water was provided automatically and glasses constantly refilled. Service was professional and friendly and we felt very sorry for the young waiter who had to go up and down 15 steps each time he went to the kitchen.

Although the loos were in the basement, next to the open plan kitchen, there was a disabled loo on the ground floor.

If you’re interested, Kopapa is Maori word for ‘a gathering, to be crowded, and a building to store food in’.

Helen Jackson

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