I have no real idea about the economic hazards of owning a restaurant. I only assume that certain business formulas are more likely to be on the secure side than others. Ten years ago or so, a Mexican restaurant opened in Borås. Their lunch menu of the first few weeks was exuberant and the fees were low. In the course of time, the lunch selection become ever more mundane (and less “Mexican”); eventually the fees seemed high for what was on the plate. This is when I stopped going there. A few months later the whole enterprise was history. The plan to suggest heaven first and apply thumbscrews later is clearly not so smart.
Tapas culture has found another way. Here, everything is about the idea: you pay for a bit of time at a square little table, candlelight, for fishing bits of things out of many small bowls, and for believing that you almost are in Spain, minus the eternal hassle with taxi drivers, stolen cell phones and inferior hotel plumbing. I was introduced to all this on Robin’s initiative – a special evening for two. It was a complete success: to keep ordering and eating tidbits is a very nice way to pass the time.
I returned to Tapas when I visited Edinburgh with my two teenage kids a few years ago. Although neither of them is a picky eater (any more), I found it safe and attractive to be able to choose from rather many dishes, both in order to counteract the risk of disappointments and as a guarantee for optimal vacation eating fun. We tried two different restaurants. The one at the river on Inverleith Row has a nice open space and is perfect for late afternoons. The food is rather rustic, however. I forget about the other one…
After all this and a trip to Spain, I was finally ready for Borås, Sweden: rumor had it that the Tapas place up at Allégatan, La Copita, was really great, and an absolute must. Following this recommendation, we went there several times. The restaurant is huge; in fact I’ve never even seen it half-full, and this is not due to a lack of guests. The service is pleasant, most of the dishes are tasty and freshly made. Unfortunately the aioli, important aside for many dishes, is neither. It tastes like stale boiled egg, cheap oil and elderly garlic turned translucent. To be sure, nobody is forced to eat aioli, but it would be nice to be able to. I tried and I wasn’t happy for the next half day.
Curiously too, it strongly resembles the aioli of the Greek restaurant Oliven a few street corners further downhill. Perhaps they share a jar. I should make one other comparison with Oliven while I’m about it: fried octopus rings. La Copita has them just right, tender but done. In Oliven, the fact that not even the batter was properly done resulted in a slimy lukewarm rubber ring inside a crisp but oily outside – a perfect match for the pitiful ailoli, but nothing one wants to eat.
Back to La Copita: apart from the aioli – and if you accept the fact that the practice of Tapas means that half of the offerings are no actual cooking but the results of jar opening and cutting and slicing – it is a fine but not an exceptional restaurant.
Of all the selections, one taste combination is especially worth mentioning: the cheeses (mainly thin slices of Manchego) with honey and walnuts. This is a very satisfying and heavenly sticky combination. It belongs to the story that these few, very thin wedges of cheese come with a little honey and quite few walnuts on a rather tiny plate, while costing about as much as 300 grams of middle-aged, imported Manchego would cost in the shop. The tapas experience isn’t really about filling your stomach – if you try that, you end up with a large hole in your purse.