As long as I can recall, Brighton Square has always been a bit of a non-place and it’s probably fair to say it’s not the prettiest corner of the Lanes. There’s never really been any reason to go there as it lacked destination shopping and dining. Thankfully I’m pleased to report that has changed for the better in the form of Coppa Club.
I can’t say Coppa Club particularly hit my food and drink radar, it’s almost as if it just quietly and discreetly floated into Brighton Square on a candy-floss cloud without fanfare or fuss. It actually opened in the autumn of 2019 but it was only last year that I noticed it when I was looking for a barstool to park myself on with my laptop for a quick coffee between meetings.
After doing some cursory research into the Coppa Club concept – as every hospitality business now has to have a ‘concept’ – I discovered that it was designed as a private members club environment for people who didn’t want to actually pay for a private members club. Hence the layout of the 300m2 of open plan space starts to make sense with a combination of comfy informal lounging areas, banquettes and the main dining room, accompanied by outdoor seating including sheltered igloos in the square outside. I actually wanted to ask where the bedrooms were as it very much has the feel of an exclusive boutique hotel with sophisticated furnishings and discreetly demarcated spaces suitable for entertaining, meetings and socialising.
The welcome is exceptional – the staff clearly enjoy working at Coppa Club and are all chatty and efficient which appears to have become unfortunately an increasingly rare thing in many hospitality businesses.
My lunch partner, Julia, and I started with a cocktail each, which to be honest were the least exciting part of our experience – my Paloma was definitely a bit thin on the tequila for my liking – but I dare say the bar team are a bit more ‘on it’ in the evening. Thankfully, things picked up on the recommendation of our server Holly when a couple of glasses of perfectly chilled Provence rosé appeared.
The menu isn’t particularly challenging but there’s a good selection of bistro-style dishes, sourdough pizzas, salads and small plates suitable for sharing. I’ve been trying to avoid wheat over the summer so it was an absolute revelation to be offered up a full non-gluten menu without asking… or having to ask and then being met with a shrug and blank look. Not every restaurant has the space to safely cater for food allergies but clearly Coppa Club do so that’s definitely worth bearing in mind if you’ve one of the awkward squad – like me – in your group.
I started with juicy shrimp on gluten-free toast. The plating screamed ‘eat me’ – or perhaps ‘Instagram me’ depending on your perspective – with glistening slithers of garlic, chilli and parsley. Simple but very well done.
Julia opted for buttermilk fried chicken with a chilli mayo. She’s a painfully slow eater but what she termed as ‘superior chicken nuggets’ didn’t hang around on the plate for long so I take that as a very positive endorsement.
For my main, I went for the flat iron steak, one of the lesser cuts of beef you’ll find in restaurants but I think one of the tastiest and usually best priced. At £16 including fries, Coppa Club’s certainly ticked my tender beef box. Julia went for the sea trout which – in its presentation – was a serious contender to compete with the lady’s hat on the neighbouring table. It was fresh and light – with a good balance of flavours and textures – so a perfect lunch choice.
I could’ve quite happily skipped dessert as my starter and main were more than filling but Little Miss Greedy Guts wanted a pudding so picked the dieters favourite: treacle tart. Clearly for professional reasons I had to have a tiny sample and can report is was suitably sweet and sticky, with a healthy dollop of crème fraîche to cut through.
I’m very consciously keeping a close eye on prices with my reviews at the moment. I’d say you can comfortably enjoy two courses and a beer or glass of house wine at Coppa Club for around £30 which may be on the high side for lunch but is reasonable enough for an evening meal, especially when compared to the neighbouring competition in the surrounding twittens.
The food here is good, the service is great – the team really do will you to have a good time – but the star of the show is without doubt the dining room and lounge itself. Coppa Club has definitely made its way onto my list of go-to Brighton haunts.
Coppa Club, 12-16 Brighton Square, Brighton BN1 1HD
01273 900 731 • www.coppaclub.co.uk