"Relax and let the cava flow..."Review Rating: Reviewed by Sean Sheehan
Walking to Copa de Cava down Farringdon Road, past the office blocks and the Crossrail building site, it is difficult to imagine what the area must have looked like in its earliest incarnation as Farringdon Within, a maze of narrow winding streets, a sprawling monastery and the river Fleet, now a humble sewer somewhere beneath the roadway. Heading off eastwards though the narrow winding lanes, with names such as Pilgrim Street, Friar’s Yard, Apothecary St, with sudden views of St Paul’s and tiny alleys slipping into quiet courtyards, London with its noise and crowds seems to slip away.
Then you see Camino Blackfriars, kissing cousin to the wildly busy branch in King’s Cross, occupying a whole corner but somehow snuggled into the old narrow lanes. Secreted downstairs in Camino is London’s only cava bar, Copa de Cava.
The basement of the modern building has been converted into an underground cellar bar, complete with fake arched ceilings whose regularly aligned bricks don’t fool anyone but effectively create the feeling of a Catalonian wine cellar. Tastefully positioned faux crumbling plaster and arched doorways that wouldn’t hold up anything add to the ambiance. Faux cellar or not, it’s wide, roomy and a blessed relief from clammy summer heat. Comfortable armchairs are great to sink into while perusing the folder of menu items. Slightly out of my depth I opted for the tasting menu, a series of eight tapas and accompanying cavas which unlike many tasting menus don’t require two people to share the exact same dishes. Relieved of decision making I relaxed and let the cava flow. Lovely gigantic Gordal olives were accompanied by a brut Vatua Colet, a great start to the alcohol element of the evening. The menu folder explains the combination of doubly fermented grapes that accompanies each course, so I won’t bore you with details. Suffice to say, goodbye Prosecco and hello cava. The plate of cured hams went down quickly, accompanied by pa amb tomàquet (spicy tomatoes on toast) and a rosado cava. The next course, four mussels cooked in a roasted pepper vinaigrette, quickly followed. Now on my third glass of cava the evening grew rosier, my companion more interesting and the arches more authentic. A tiny Spanish omlette in a glass was followed by a lovely pistou covered in manchego cheese. The next, another toast and veg course, coca recapte, might easily have been omitted as could the cheeses that followed.
Going again, I’d opt for choosing my own dishes, take fewer courses but consider going on a Monday when a happy hour prevails and the customers are thinner on the ground. The tasting menu was £45, fair value considering the amount of food and drink.
Sean Sheehan reviewed Copa de Cava on Wed 06 Aug 2014