We recently found ourselves in Blackheath to catch up with some friends and their gorgeously squidgy 10-month-old daughter. They suggested Copper & Ink on Lee Road and one look at their menu told me we were in for a treat…
Copper & Ink was set up by local Masterchef finalist Tony Rodd and food writer Becky Cummings to bring creativity, delicious food & wine, and an artistic setting without the stuffiness often found with fine-dining establishments. Their seasonal, monthly menus focus around modern British food using local and fair trade ingredients with influences from France and Scandinavia thrown in for good measure. Settling on a starter and main was not an easy task as the menu was all just so tempting. Dishes like the harissa octopus with squid ink risotto, salsa verde and chicory, the brill fillet with crab salad and herb gnocchi, or the chicken with chorizo, patatas bravas, charred corn and black garlic – I mean how are you actually meant to choose!
In the end I decided to follow my curiosity and try the starter of fermented tomato salad with a tomato consommé, cucumber and lovage pesto. Mark was slightly bemused by the fact that I was ordering a tomato dish despite having so many tomatoes growing on the allotment that we don’t know what to do with…but that was exactly my motivation for trying this dish and it certainly opened my eyes to how you can get incredible levels of flavour from this fairly humble ingredient. To think that I never used to like tomatoes until I was well into my twenties! The fermented tomatoes looked just like a regular tomato, except that they had this amazing tangy, almost fizzy flavour when you took a bite. When combined with the tomato consommé and the lovage pesto with its celery-like flavour, this was a completely unique flavour experience that to be honest I hadn’t expected.
I also snuck a bite of my friend’s harissa glazed octopus which aside from being perfectly cooked had a fantastic chilli kick that was beautifully tempered by the rich velvet of the squid ink risotto. As far as how it looked on the plate – never has a dish looked so dangerously alluring.
After much deliberation, my choice for my main course was the pea pancake with roasted peppers, charcoal aioli and a generous topping of pea shoots which I absolutely love. Look how green! The pancake was wonderfully fluffy and the flavours so fresh. I can’t wait to try growing peas next year so that I can put pea shoots in and on everything I eat!
Having struggled to choose my starter and main, I had no such problem with the dessert menu. That’s not to say that the menu is limited – far from it with the plum souffle with vanilla poached plums (I’m a big fan of plums) or the pressed apple terrine with an intriguing sounding buckwheat meringue cake and blackcurrant sorbet combo – but my heart was immediately set on the chocolate delice with banana brûlée and hazelnut ice cream.
It didn’t disappoint. The thick, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate mousse/ganache was brought to life by the banana and the crack of the brûlée topping was intensely satisfying. If that wasn’t enough, we were treated to a plate of petit fours of macarons in various flavours, beetroot marshmallows and physalis fruits.
Copper & Ink meets every expectation you could challenge it with and then some. This is a restaurant that wears its identity and heart on its sleeve and both are tangible as soon as you enter through their doors. I can’t recommend this dining experience enough.