When it comes to upscale modern Indian cuisine, Chef Sri Gopinathan and business partner, restaurateur Ayesha Thapar, seem to have the magic touch.
Their first restaurant, Ettan in downtown Palo Alto, opened just before the pandemic hit. It not only managed to survive that turmoil but come out of it flourishing.
In February, the duo debuted Copra, just blocks from Japantown in San Francisco. Taking its name from the word for the dried flesh of a coconut, Copra showcases Southern Indian coastal cuisine, the type that Gopinathan, who held two Michelin stars at San Francisco’s Campton Place Restaurant, grew up eating. You’ll find surprising dishes here such as octopus and bone marrow that you’d be hard pressed to see on any other Indian menu around (well, except at sister restaurant Ettan, that is, where octopus does appear).
If my visit last week is any indication, Copra is hitting it out of the park. The restaurant was jamming and jammed — and this was on a Wednesday night.
Expect it to be even more so now that the Michelin Guide California just announced this week that Copra is one of 19 new establishments that will be in the 2023 guide to be released later this year.
Like Ettan, Copra is a looker. Whereas Ettan drips with chandeliers and vivid marine blue tones, Copra is done up with earth tones, enough plants (artificial) to resemble a greenhouse, and more macrame than you’ve probably ever seen in one place at one time.
Normally in this space, I try to tempt you with mouthwatering food photos and interesting insights into new restaurants that are worth a visit. However, these are anything but normal times.
So let me merely provide a diversion in this unprecedented time when we are all mostly stuck at home, and going a little stir crazy. It’s a reminder that when life does get back on track, we ought to help support our local restaurants and other businesses that will have a hard time getting back on their feet.
Last month, before widespread lock-down ensued, I was invited in as a guest of the just-opened Ettan, a splashy new modern Indian restaurant in downtown Palo Alto. It’s a collaboration between Ayesha Thapar, a real estate and fashion entrepreneur, and Srijith Gopinathan, executive chef of the Michelin two-starred Campton Place in San Francisco.
The soaring, three-story former Three Seasons restaurant space has been redone in striking shades of cerulean, indigo and bright white. The leaded glass domed ceiling remains a focal point, even more so with clusters of sparkly and sculptural chandeliers dangling from it. There’s more bling with the water pitchers and champagne buckets that are made of copper.
On a warm night, the outside patio is an especially inviting spot with its lounge-y loveseats and chairs, done up with plentiful pillows.