I met my friends Dee and Cath at Copa in Bridgehampton for tapas and laughs. (If your friends don’t have nicknames, are they really your friends?) I knew I was in the company of professional drinkers, but these girls can EAT too! “Anything goes” with tapas – it’s not a particular type of food, anything can be tapas. As long as it is small and served with drinks. You can eat at Copa’s big central bar if you like.
I didn’t find the servings at Copa at all tiny and, though much was authentically Spanish, the dishes were not terribly spicy.
I signed on for some sangria, which begged the question from our server Nadine, “A pitcher?” Tempting, but Dee went with a Spanish red wine, Borsao, Berola, which she defined as “delicious.” Cath also sampled a Fall/Winter sangria. I was a little reluctant toward the “cinnamon and spice” – but it works, it’s refreshing and delish with bits of green apple, not over sweet. Michelle, Copa’s Bar Manager, dreams up all kinds of fun cocktails year-round. Of course they have beers on draft. It’s so nice to visit this restaurant when it’s not stuffed with hot bodies. Eh, well, the summer’s not bad either.
Manager Fred Shafi started us off with Chicken and Potato Empanadas with Garden Salsa. Warm and easy to share in their neat little packages. Dee said we had to have some of the meatballs, in their sherry cream sauce with manchego cheese melted on top. Oh my. Chef Phil Rendel suggested his Curried Mussels – who would say no to those? Steamed mussels in a curried cream sauce with cilantro, shallots and white wine. This past summer was Rendel’s first in the Hamptons. He’s an upislander who says he loves it out here.
The Spanish music was a really fun touch. Fred called it simply “Madrid.”
Fred’s friendly face may look familiar to you as he used to manage Madame Tong’s in Southampton, or perhaps you go back to his days at Tavern on the Green. It’s all good, his charm and warmth well complement the space. Copa is sizeable but very cozy with natural wood everywhere; we happily sank into the comfy red banquette in the back. Fred told me the most popular item right now is the cheese plate. In can see that. It changes daily…and there’s a Fish of the Day.
Ooh and we had smooth hummus on flat bread. Then silent and swift Nadine brought us a tasty Chopped Salad of greens, fennel, olives, peppers, caper berries and fresh feta. Most of the flavor was derived from the olives. On to tender slices of Hanger Steak with freshly seasoned herb fries and chimichurri sauce…I think I’ve lost track of the order of our feast – there was also bubbling-hot Oven Roasted Cod in tomato broth with lemon and garlic and chunks of potato. Tender and tasty cod – this is why cod is a favorite fish in many countries. Copa also does a Cod Fish & Chips. We tried the Zucchini Croquettes, which were light and hot, seasoned with chives, thyme, salt and pepper. The Chorizo and Clams beckoned and we demolished them.
Copa has quite the wine list, with 40 wines available by the glass and over 200 by the bottle. “Locals” include Sherwood House, Raphael, Wolffer, Grapes of Roth and Bouke. I tried the North Fork’s Bouke rosé. I found it mild, drinkable and well-chilled, thanks Michelle! A beautiful color, served in a glass as big as my appetite.
For dessert we enjoyed a rich Chocolate Fondue with cashew-crusted banana, brownie chunks and slices of Granny Smith apple to dip. This would be perfect for a Valentine…And the Crepe Suzette flavored with Grand Marnier and fresh orange juice was bright and rich in a buttery way.
Owner Chris Boudouris chooses all the wines. He owns that big wine store, McNamara Wines & Spirits, in Bridgehampton Commons just up the way, so he knows from wine and spirits.
With so many “tastes” we didn’t have room to sample the Paella – we’ll have to go back for that.
Copa, 95 School Street, Bridgehampton. 631-613-6469.
For Copa’s Ladies Night specials, details on live music and more, visit www.copawineandtapas.com.