Page 52

DAN'S PAPERS, September 25, 2009 Page 51

Food / Dining

By Susan M. Galardi After seeing a movie one evening last winter, that frigid, snowy, icy winter, I remember wanting to go somewhere warm, with other human beings. We did not find that place. But I think I have now. In Bridgehampton on School Street is Copa Wine Bar & Tapas – a classic tapas bar featuring small plates of food with huge flavor. The idea is, you sit at the bar or table/counter with old or new friends, have a nice glass of wine and nosh to your heart’s content on amazing appetizers. For some, that’s dinner. But for others, Copa offers grilled meats and fish and fully tricked-out entrees. But the feeling of Copa is more tapas bar than restaurant – and I mean that in the most positive way. I have a hunch that, on those chilly winter nights when you think you’re the only person alive in the Hamptons, there will be a conviviality at Copa. It has a fun, friendly, welcoming and casual feel, but the menu and wine list are anything but a second thought. The restaurant, offering “Spanish-inspired” food, opened in July. It’s the brainstorm of Chris Boudouris (owner of McNamara’s Liquors) and Cosmo Venneri, who owned nightclubs in the city. The two created the impressive wine list, which features Spanish wines from the Riojas region and many other choices at $825 a glass. They hired Eddy Phooprasert as executive chef, who, according to Venneri, totally got the concept of a tapas bar – a bit surprising considering his background. Originally from Thailand and trained at the Cordon Bleu, he came up in his family’s Thai restaurant business in New York, and was executive corporate chef at The Wynn in Las Vegas. But all you have to do is taste to realize that Phooprasert not only gets the concept, he gets food.

Susan M. Galardi

Restaurant Review: Copa Wine Bar & Tapas

He’s an adherent to the Cordon Bleu’s layering of flavors strategy, working with classic Spanish tapas ingredients like cured meats, strong cheeses and spicy peppers, but adding his own touches – wasabi cream and tamarind reduction, for example, to a grilled yellow fin tuna with Spanish rice entrée, which succeeds in so many ways. On the plate is an ample serving of richly flavored rice – not the typically overly cooked Spanish rice you find in some paellas that suck in shellfish like quicksand, but al dente grains cooked in a savory sauce. Atop that are layered baby carrots and zucchini; pink, perfect delicate slices of tuna with a good dab of wasabi cream; and sweet fried parsnip strips – a mixture of ethnic flavors that works perfectly. Main course entrees run $27 (for chicken breast) to $39 (for rib-eye). Paella for two (or three) is $45, and $75 for the seafood variety. There is plain grilled everything – lobster, scal-

lops, calamari, beef and chicken ($9-$18), and the chef ’s signature lamb chops. Of the salads ($12-16) we tried the Ensalada de Jamon – spinach, Serrrano ham, almonds dusted with a chili powder, dried figs, La Peral blue cheese, all brought into happy union by a fine sherry vinaigrette. And of course, the tapas – dozens of lovely little dishes, priced largely between $7 and $15. Pimentos de Padron was a plate of flash-fried thin peppers in a smooth sauce of a sweet red pepper, tomato and ground toasted almonds (the secret ingredient – oops!) – a perfect compliment. Empanada de Copa is a delicate pastry filled with Manchego cheese, artichoke and spinach mélange. Very nice. The tiny clams with slices of chorizo in white wine/shallot broth were so perfect in every way. The four garlic shrimp also filled the bill, and the taste buds. Both of these sauces required much mopping; I kept hearing myself say, “Go easy on the bread.” But how could I? There’s also a great selection of cured meats and cheeses to start. For dessert, Phooprasert has a few tricks up his sleeve. Try this winner: Drunken lemon cake with blackberry plum sauce and olive oil ice cream. It takes French vanilla to a whole other level. Just delicious. The fig/hazlenut galette was a flaky, buttery pastry with fresh figs and toasted hazelnuts. Now here’s where he lost me: basil/mahon cheese ice cream. I must admit, a little on the spoon with the galette was nice, but my palette is not that refined, – or jaded as the case may be. No matter. This is a tapas restaurant. There’s a lot to choose from anytime you go. Copa Wine Bar & Tapas. 95 School Street, Bridgehampton. 631-613-6469

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Dan's Papers Sept. 25, 2009  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

Dan's Papers Sept. 25, 2009  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...