Walking into Copa in Bridgehampton is like walking into a little piece of Spain. The organic wood décor separated into family-style round tables, high-tops and a bar definitely exudes a tapas atmosphere.
Chef Dominic was extremely informative, explaining every dish as it was brought out to me; since I don’t know much about Spanish food, this was a big help. The first tapas course I had was Pimentos or flash-fried green peppers topped with sea salt with a pepper aioli. To my surprise, the long, skinny peppers were not as hot as I thought they’d be; granted they had a bit of spice, but it was mild and the aioli was creamy, which gave a nice balance.
The next two tapas I had came out together; quail eggs and chorizo on grilled bread with a tomato reduction, and cockles with chorizo in butter-white wine sauce. The eggs were a perfect complement to the chorizo, which is pretty much spicy Spanish pepperoni. And the tomato reduction hinted at a fancy barbeque sauce. The way that the tomatoes and quail yokes soften the grilled bread was delectable. The cockles, served in a bowl, were submerged in a lovely broth of white wine, butter and shallots. This reminded me of having mussels served the same way, but the cockles were just so cute and tender. With the kick from the chorizo, it made for a whole new experience.
The third course was by far my favorite of the entire meal: lobster corn chowder. This is what Chef Dominic called “Spain meets the Hamptons,” which means that he’s taken a classical Hamptons dish and put a Spanish twist on it. What the chef does is take local, freshly picked corn and scrape it with a knife to get all of the “milk” out of the cob, which gives the creamy broth its silky mouth feel. The broth was brought out in a teapot and poured over the chunks of lobster, potatoes, corn kernels and smoky bacon bits. The combination of smoky bacon and creamy corn was just incredibly luscious.
The final appetizer I had before the main dish was whole garlic shrimp in butter. They were split in half with the heads left on, which you can detach and explore for their juices (tastes like yummy sea water). The piece de résistance was seafood paella that filled a 12” paella pan with lobster, shrimp, mussels, cockles, saffron rice, chorizo and artichokes. The rice was tender and the seafood was fresh and not at all “chewy.”
To cap off this fabulous meal, the chef brought out a dessert he just whipped up from local peaches, Wölffer red wine and purple basil. He put that concoction atop vanilla ice cream and it was sweet, yet slightly savory at the same time.
If you want to take a little vacation to Barcelona or Madrid, Copa is the place to go!
Copa Wine Bar & Tapas, 5 School Street, Bridgehampton, 631-613-6469. www.copawinebarandtapas.com.