Restaurant Review: Copla

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Spanish restaurants are so few and far between in Lebanon, but the throne has finally been claimed, and the victor is Copla.

With a sleek minimal design by Bernard Khoury, Copla is a sophisticated Spanish/Andalusian brasserie and tapas bar. The real beauty here lies in the stunning outdoor terrace that’s drenched in greenery in the heart of Beirut’s upscale downtown district. To call the ambiance cozy and inviting would be an understatement, as Copla‘s unique design is tremendously impressive.

The menu is the brainchild of two star Michelin Chef Dani Garcia, and it’s a resounding success. Garcia’s selections are amusingly divided into “The Land”, “The Sea”, and “The Raw Bar”. The titles are different enough to merit special attention; I only wish the rest of the categories (salads, main courses, and business lunches) had similarly creative headings. Perhaps that’s just the copywriter in me nitpicking?

We begin our meal with a complimentary shot of gazpacho brimming with feta cheese (which I usually detest). It’s a nifty little touch that cleanses the palate and fires up the tastebuds before the tapas arrive. We begin with the Burger Bull, a delicious set of three oxtail burgers with cheese, arugula and a succulent oxtail sauce mix. Next are the Calameres Fritos served with tarragon tartar and roasted flaked almonds. Let me tell you, the almonds are a stupendous finish to this surprising plate of wonders, and add a wonderful crunch to the calamari. But the star player is the Avocado Cannelloni stuffed with spicy king crabs and light bell peppers. This platter is just divine, and I could have three of them as my main dish without complaint.

As for the main course, we share the grilled sea bass and the slow cooked suckling lamb shank. The bass arrives on a bed of saffron cream and it’s positively spectacular. I had a terrible experience with sea bass at Sud, so I was most enamored by this creation. As for the lamb shank, it’s downright heavenly with a tender, juicy meat and a luscious portion of creamy potato mash.

It’s dessert time and although we’re full, we opt for The Torija: Copla‘s version of the Pain Perdu. It’s no secret that Pain Perdu is my favorite dessert, with Gilt‘s take on the marvelous dessert cementing itself as my favorite in Lebanon (Couqley had previously held the esteemed honor). As for Copla‘s? It’s definitely different: a coconut-scented caramelized bread pudding that’s undeniably worth experiencing. It’s not mindblowing, but the scoop of mint ice cream by its side did wonders to convince me otherwise.

Our meal was bookended with a visit from Samer, Copla‘s manager. A genuinely great guy, Samer spoke to us about Copla‘s plans to expand its terrace into a loungier atmosphere complete with even more gorgeous greenery. I definitely can’t wait for my next visit, and I do hope the terrace’s incredible quality can be maintained.

Price: $70 per person without alcohol.
Service: Excellent. Thank you Reem (truly one of the best waitresses I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in a while).
Presentation: Top-notch. The calamari bathed in almonds is a thing of beauty.
Ambiance: Serene and quite romantic.
Must try: The Avocado Cannelloni – my God it’s terrific.
Go with: Perfect date spot. Just make sure you sit outside.

Conclusion
Dining at Copla proved to be an exceptional experience that comes highly recommended. Definitely drop by for a scrumptious feast.

Nad Rating
A

For reservations, call 03 023400
Berytus Building, Park Avenue, Mina El Hosn, Downtown Beirut, Lebanon
facebook.com/coplabeirut

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