You know those friends that you truly love, but for whatever reason never see? I sometimes feel like the easier it is to see someone the less likely it is that you will, as you kind of just expect it to happen.

BUT, when you finally make it happen, I think we can all agree that there’s no better way to catch up with old friends than over a feast. Or tapas.

So it was with much excitement that Michael & I met Dan (who we double-dated with to Cologne together with his gorgeous girlfriend), Tom and Phil at Copita del Mercado a few weekends ago.

The dining room is surprisingly cosy with an intimate feel as a result of dim & warming lighting, brass, tiles and dark woods.

With communal tables, stools by the bar and overlooking the kitchen, as well as private tables, there’s an attractive seating option for every kind of diner.

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Copita del Mercado’s dishes are based on traditional regional recipes with an injection of modern flair.

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The menu is freshly prepared every day and cooked with love & care in the beautiful open kitchen.

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^ By happy chefs (always a bonus).

As well as the fixed menu, market-fresh daily specials are scrawled on extensive blackboards around the room.

Uniquely, the restaurant also has a fully dedicated G&T menu featuring more than a dozen gins, all served large & strong in fishbowl glasses.

However, we decided to dodge the gin and went for a couple of bottles of white & red wine instead; ‘Ophalum Albarino D.O., Rias Baixas, 2013’ (£33.00) and ‘Diez Llorente, Tempranillo D.O., Ribera del Duero 2013’ (£27.00).

The feast commenced with the breaking of bread (well, not quite) (£2.00).

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Followed by a plate of chorizo extra iberico (£6.00). The sausage was smooth, mildly spicy and very tasty.

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Two rounds of mushroom croquetas (£6.00 each) later, of which we ordered the second plate as soon as the first lot had had a bite taken out of them they were so good, and we were ready to move onto ‘mains’.

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^ Rich, gooey and creamy, with a great crispy crust.

From the ‘seafood’ section we sampled the seabass tartare, kohlrabi, sunflower seeds & lime butter (£11.00).

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The flavour combinations were light, earthy and citrusy and it was an all-round winning and well-balanced plate of food.

We also had two portions of the ‘specials’ arròz negre (£9.00 each), otherwise known as cuttlefish and rice.

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Similarly to the mushroom croquetas, it was absolutely divine with the rice perfectly cooked and the cuttlefish tender & delicious. However, I do think that they could be more generous with the seafood per plate.

From the ‘vegetarian’ section we ordered two rounds of the roasted aubergine, hazelnut, tomato honey and coriander (£6.00) (my obsession with aubergine is no joke), which, although not quite on par with my beloved Japanese-style miso aubergine which you get at the likes of Roka (regular readers will be proud that I’ve managed to sneak that one in even here), still packed a punch in all the right ways with soft, meaty aubergine married with creamy & crunchy textures.

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As well as the sweet potato, peanuts, salsa brava and alioli (£6.00), in other words, posh patatas bravas, which were absolutely superb.

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The combo of sweet potato and peanuts was quite revolutionary, and a must-try at home.

As for ‘meat’, the pollo borracho, saffron, celeriac and raisins (£9.50) was fine. It was chicken cooked well, but not my order, and the skin needed some serious attention. No one likes soggy skin.

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The chargrilled sirloin of Galician beef (£14.00 each) sadly also fell a little flat, which we had had such high hopes for that we’d gone in strong with two orders right off the bat, only to find the morsels of beef consisted mostly of unrendered fat.

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What we had of meat, however, was tasty.

The saving grace was the roasted acorn-fed iberico presa with pincho moruno salsa (£10.00); generous in quantity and served thick-cut, the pork succulent and flavoursome and well-accompanied by the tangy & tasty marinade. It was definitely a highlight of our meal, hence re-ordered twice more.

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Overall, a surprisingly good dinner considering how off the cuff our reservation was and its location in my-not-so-enticing-neighbourhood (which just goes to show east London’s on the up), enjoyed in even better company.

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I would definitely go back, and if you like tapas, I suggest you do too. According to Timeout, “a more polished, more ambitious version of Soho tapas success Copita”.

7.5/10

Copita Del Mercado Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Square Meal