‘Copa De Cava’ claims to be “the UK’s first dedicated and authentic cava bar”. But can cava compete with its more popular and fashionable sibling, champagne?
“Cava seems to have an perception problem” says Richard Biggs, the owner of specialist Cava bar ‘Copa De Cava’. He pours me a glass and describes how it is often considered to be the poor-cousin of champagne and unfairly associated with cheap ‘supermarket fizz’. However Richard is trying to challenge this stereotype with this venue. He is clearly someone who loves all things Spanish and it shows in his current empire. ‘Copa De Cava’ is set underneath the Blackfriars branch of his Spanish Restaurant group ‘El Camino’. His sherry-centric venue, ‘Bar Pepito’ in Kings Cross, has already won over fans of the Spanish fortified wine which is often tarnished with the stigma of ‘grandma’s Christmas tipple’.
The cava offering here is impressive, unlike most venues where one or two bottles make a token appearance just below the champagne, half of the menu is dedicated to cava. This includes a 2 page ‘cheat-sheet’ for the uninformed and suggested food pairings for every bottle. I stopped counting the number of varieties on offer at 25-30, but I’m pretty sure they have others available off menu if you ask nicely. The prices start from £5 a glass to £95 a bottle, which makes it a lot easier on the wallet than a champagne bar!
Food pairings are Spanish, as expected, and excellent with a glass of cava. Some had very interesting twists. The “Tortilla Siglo XXI” (Spanish omelette in a glass) is uniquely ‘deconstructed’ and has the appearance of a dessert presented in a large shot glass rather than an omelette of any description!
If you Google images for “Patatas Bravas” they will bear absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the Copa De Cava interpretation! These were uniquely presented like a canapé roll. A cylinder of potato with the tomato sauce element on top. If you like modern twists on classics this and the Spanish omelette are ones to order
The ‘pulpo’ (octopus) was presented rather satisfyingly (more conventionally) as a single chunky tentacle on a bed of olive oil mash and seasoned with paprika. Great if you like suckers!
In essence this venue can be best viewed up as a Spanish version of an Italian bacaro crossed with a champagne bar. It has lots of quality bites to accompany your evening of drinking. Some bites a bit more experimental than others but if you’re daring to experiment with your drink then a little bit of adventure with your food should be ‘de rigeur’
- Those who want to try an alternative to champagne.
- Those who want a bacaro type experience.
- Those who want to learn about Cava.
NOT SO GOOD FOR
- Vegetarian tee-total-ers… but then again, I can’t name ANY Spanish venues suitable for such people…
FOR A SECOND OPINION…
The others present on the night may give you more prospective.
The Cutlery Chronicles (By Leylaa Kazim)
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