I had every intention of writing about breakfast at the Tapa Room, a Marylebone restaurant with an unusual breakfast menu, but my plan’s been scuppered by the fact that I can never get in the place. Awkward to reach, doesn’t take bookings, and popular with the sort of people who can afford to live in Marylebone and don’t mind queueing for 45 minutes; every time I’ve tried to visit I’ve found what looks like a Banana Republic window display come to life, queuing out of the door for a cramped spot at one of those hateful shared galley tables.
The Tapa Room, then, is not a place for me, but a place for those who dress for queuing, who like to be seen queuing, and have nothing better to do with their time than fashionably stand in a fashionable queue with their fashionable friends who are all there for a fashionable dining experience. People who eat at the Chiltern Firehouse and buy things from Skandium.
Instead I’ve been going to The Tapa Room’s sister restaurant in Covent Garden, which has some crossover on the menu. Kopapa is larger, a bit more accessible and with a marginally more tolerable clientele, though it’s Covent Garden so I have to stress the ‘marginally’, quite a few of them looking like the younger, smaller, smoother relatives of the Marylebone Queuers.
Food-wise, Kopapa is pretty good so long as you know what you’re getting — some of the options are small, and the sides menu is expensive if you want to pad out your meal. I don’t know what “‘Turkish eggs’ from Changa restaurant in Istanbul” is supposed to mean, but it’s the highlight of the breakfast menu. Two poached eggs with yogurt, chilli butter and toast makes for a moderately hot and messy meal but one that’s worth getting your beard wet for. Conversely, “Spiced banana French toast, grilled bacon, orange blossom labne, tamarind raisin relish & orange vanilla syrup” sounded promising but all the different sweet elements combined to make an unidentifiable sickly concoction, and a portion size so small it left me wanting a second breakfast. My friend’s smaller-sounding ‘2 soft-boiled eggs with vegemite soldiers’ came with a mountain of toast that I couldn’t share, what with it being irredeemably tainted with vegemite.
The full English is represented here by three fry-ups with two eggs, toast, roast tomatoes and mushrooms, then the option of adding either bacon, black pudding or, for the vegetarians — you get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir! That unfairness aside, they’re good fry-ups — not overwhelming but not insubstantial either.
As for Kopapa itself, the restaurant doesn’t have much personality, a study in smart-but-bland neutrality, and noise is a problem; when the place is full it’s hard to hear the person in front of you, and when the place has only a few people it’s hard to filter them out. Service is hit and miss, and more than once I’ve had to chase up part or all of an order, irrespective of how busy the place was.
Overall…it’s worth a visit just to check out the Turkish eggs, and if you’re in Covent Garden and in need of a fry-up it’s a decent option. The place is never going to be a regular haunt for me though; it’s just a little bit charmless.