Coppa Club, Brighton
Large and loungey, Coppa Club has landed in Brighton. Make a dinner date or linger in an armchair over a coffee, cocktail or light bites
It’s been in the works for a long time but finally Coppa Club has landed in Brighton! Having loved its London incarnation at Tower Bridge when I visited a few years back, we were keen to check out its brand new Sussex venture, so we went along for a nosey on a soft-opening night (it opens fully on Mon Sept 16 for all day dining, cocktails and more).
Brighton Square in The Lanes. It is actually three former individual eateries/shops knocked into one so rather tardis-like inside. It has a few access points, including through the new Hanningtons Lane entrance to the Lanes. Though it’s tucked away it’s within a few minutes walk of the seafront.
Coppa Club is so named as it’s designed to have a similar feel to a members club – except it’s open free to all. Basically the idea is that rather than a straight turn-up-and-eat restaurant, it includes plenty of lounge areas for more casual lingering over a coffee, cocktail, light bites etc. You really get that ‘all-day’ feel.
The whole place has many different pockets with banquette seating, tables and chairs, groups of armchairs with coffee tables and so on, so it feels like if you were there for a date, or with a big group of friends or even on your own you could get your own area.
I could already see how it worked on my visit – there were several tables having full meals but a couple near us took up residence in some armchairs and happily shared desserts.
The decor is attractive, with bright pops of colour and that mis-matched feel that feels very contemporary but not ‘in your face.’ Banquettes in trendy burnt orange, some soft pink walls, graphic cushions, understated modern art.
There are bookshelves in one of the lounge areas that are worth a browse – I spotted some vintage ’80s Vogues!
As we were there during the limited ‘soft opening’ period the restaurant was about a third full but there was already a good buzz and the background music was just the right level for creating atmosphere without being intrusive. Our waitress was great – chatty and friendly, helping add to the fun feel.
Coppa Club has planning permission to create a glass-fenced outdoor seating area around the dolphin fountain in the middle of the square with armchairs and wicker tables and pretty strings of lights under canopies in the evening. Heaters are going to be added to make it work into autumn. It’s a cosy space that’s likely to evolve, we’re told, to take account of some people’s concerns over the fountain access.
The main menu is divided into mains and grills (including chops, steak and trout), pizza and pasta.
For starters I went for the buttermilk chicken and my husband the haddock arancini, both of which had an option of spicy mayo. These are also available as bar snacks, in fact I can see them working better this way as something to graze on as they are tapas-style ‘small plates’ rather than traditional starters. Other options included crispy squid, king prawns and chicken liver pate. There are nibbles like olives and almonds and sticky chorizo sausages on offer besides.
I have a homing instinct towards any seafood linguini but rarely order it outside of an Italian restaurant for fear it won’t be up to scratch. With the promise of freshly-made pasta, however, I ordered the crab linguini with chilli, capers, cherry tomatoes and parsley for my main and I was glad I did. The pasta was spot on, the fresh crab plentiful and it had a rich taste. I loved the plates too.
My husband enjoyed his chunky vegan burger – a beetroot, quinoa, chickpeas and coriander patty – and could have added halloumi to make it veggie if he hadn’t had a cheese-fest at lunchtime. He said he’d have preferred chunky chips but demolished the skinny fries all the same.
I can also recommend the corn-fed chicken, fries and coleslaw I’ve had for lunch before at the Coppa in London – it was simple but delicious.
After a breather I was up for the sharing board of desserts (£12.95) but my husband over-ruled me and I ended up with a really chunky pecan pie with honeycomb ice-cream while he went for the chocolate and cashew brownie, though I got a taste. I’d pop in for either again with a drink but the brownie won – really dark chocolate that meant it wasn’t over-sweet.
I had a very good Italian Sauvignon Blanc (a happy find, as most whites are too acidic for me) while my other half enjoyed a Viognier. I also had a Stroppy Cow from the cocktail menu (much to my other half’s amusement) – a twist on a white Russian, with Black Cow vodka, double cream, Kahlua, caramel, salt and honeycomb. Believe me this would cheer anyone up. We both loved it.
It’s well worth checking out the breakfast and brunch menus. Breakfast – served on weekdays, ranges from a stack of pancakes to bowls with quinoa and tumeric rice bases, to smashed avacado and poached eggs to a full skillet breakfast. Weekend brunch (served until a wonderfully lazy 4pm should your hangover require a seriously long lie-in) widens the menu further to include egg benedict and all its veggie, fishy variants including a decadent Lobster Benedict!
There’s a great value children’s menu at £6.95 for three courses and a drink. There’s also a decent gluten-free menu including pasta.
Brighton has many fantastic independent eateries, but they tend to be small and, as I’ve found to my cost many a time, booked out at weekends if you’re not organised. Where Coppa Club fits well as an addition to the scene is that it has plenty of room for wider gatherings or more ad-hoc drops ins. It also multi-tasks, ringing the changes from a coffee shop if you want somewhere comfortable to meet or hole up for a while in the daytime. I’d have no qualms about dropping in with my laptop for a coffee and a snack, or a cheeky wine.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Mid-priced, crowd-pleasing food in a loungey environment – large enough for a party with friends but relaxed enough to take your in-laws. Perfect for leisurely brunching or cocktails, a shopping pit stop, a casual work meeting, or a spot of work while grazing. It would also work for solo diners.
Not so good for: The crowd-pleasing food might not suit serious experimenters. While it’s fine to bring children, and they have a good dedicated menu, they wouldn’t feel a natural fit for evenings.
The damage: Mains and grills £12.95 – £18.45 (£24.95 for sirloin steak and chips), pasta £10.95 – £13.45, pizza £7.95 to £9.95.
Coppa Club, Brighton Square, Brighton, BN1 1HD, coppaclub.co.uk