Copper—man’s first metal. It holds a sacred place in our history as the first metal to be unearthed and shaped by human hands. Man’s first use of copper, interestingly, was decorative and ornamental. Copper became a vehicle for artistic expression. Its color and malleability inspired craftsmanship. Since that time, however, copper has become more known for its utilitarian contributions to society. Even today, copper continues to show its versatility. We rely on copper to make calls on our cell phones and to access blogs from our computers. For inspiration, though, we typically look elsewhere.
That is, until now.
Copper is a New American bistro and BYOB in Northern Liberties. The setting is intimate—the front room has roughly thirty white tablecloth, candle lit seats. There is also a back room, which can accommodate a small group or two. The foodsmiths are owner / executive chef Daniel Connelly and chef de cuisine Todd Braley. The kitchen is open and stationed in the front room, inherently making the chefs part of the dining experience. Yet, you barely notice them. Apparently, aside from the help of only one prep person, Connelly and Braley effortlessly manage the entire restaurant all by themselves. And they do it with a quiet, measured synergy. It’s truly impressive.
Our first appetizer was the soup du jour, Hubbard Squash Soup with Mascarpone Cheese and Nutmeg ($6.00). The soup was incredibly rich and buttery. Addictive and satisfying at a core level; however, a bit of sweetness would have helped to balance out the richness.
I also ordered the Turnip and Beet Carpaccio with Gorgonzola and Caramelized Walnuts ($7.50). The presentation of this dish was elegant. The rich, whipped Gorgonzola at the center of this dish provided a nice contrast to the cool, comforting root vegetables. The sugar on the walnuts, which were addictive, was a bit too candy-ish for this dish. A sugar with the depth of honey or molasses, for example, probably would be more complementary to the vegetables and Gorgonzola.
We brought a bottle of Rosenblum Zinfandel, San Francisco Bay Carla’s Vineyard 2004 ($26.99, PLCB No. 13724, Specialty). This wine was deep and bold—black cherry, black currant, raisiny plum and grass. With an alcohol content of 16%, this Zinfandel was a formidable (and enjoyable) dinner companion.
For her entrée, my wife ordered the Seared Day-Boat Scallops, Potato Rosti, Wild Mushroom Ragout and Proscuitto Jus ($22.50). The scallops were perfectly prepared. The mushroom ragout was flavorful and earthy, yet delicate, and paired well with the scallops.
I ordered the Seared Duck Breast with Fregola Sarda and Cherry Gastrique ($21.00). The quality of the duck was amazing—no gamyness whatsoever. Probably the best duck I’ve had in recent memory. This, too, was perfectly prepared. With a duck of lesser quality, one would expect the skin to have been treated to a few more seconds of searing and the meat to be coated in a deeper cherry gastrique. But, given the high quality of the duck, it was wise not to do so here, a testament to chefs’ discretion.
For dessert, we ordered the Flourless Chocolate Torte ($6.00), which I wrote about here in this week’s Culture Shock section of the City Paper.
Chefs Connelly and Braley demonstrate that Copper is synonymous with artistry and craftsmanship. Inspiration is just a reservation away.
614 N. Second Street