Unleash your inner Latin lover

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

It’s the best of Brazilian, Mexican, Argentine and Cuban fusion

Mark Laba

Chef and co-owner of Gastown’s Cobre Restaurant, Stuart Irving poses with a dish of chicken taquitos and a few bottles of the restaurant’s aged tequilas. Cobre is the brainchild of three area restaurateurs and features nuevo Latino cuisine, a fusion of Argentine, Cuban, Mexican and Brazilian cooking. Photograph by : Wayne Leidenfrost, The Province

I was watching Dora the Explorer with my three-and-a-half-year-old the other day hoping to brush up on my Spanish before hitting this new joint. I learned the Spanish word for jump and log, but unfortunately Dora never got around to pisco, tatemado or chayote.

Luckily Cobre supplies you with a glossary when you sit down to eat.

Billed as nuevo Latino cuisine, which means the kitchen is taking a bit of the best from B.C. ingredients, some fancy plate stylings and then driving that bus down Mexico and South America way. The three owners have all been around the culinary block with ex-executive chef of Wild Rice Stuart Irving heading up the kitchen. Tyson Reimer, no stranger to top-notch kitchens himself, is now shedding the apron strings to run the front end of the house. And Jason Kelly works the beverage angle.

Peaches and I stepped into this beautifully renovated space with three levels, a swanky wine vault for private shindigs taking up the main level. The bar on the first floor is a spiffy spot to sit, curving copper overhead while you get loopy on cocktails like the Tijuana Speedball or the Cobre Cobra. Nifty wine list to boot.

The top level has a secluded overview of the place that showcases timber beams, lots of brickwork and an off-white semi-circular banquette that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Pablo Escobar’s basement discotheque.

I was happy to discover a new beer from Argentina called Patagonia, which I found invigorating. As was the charred tomato achiote soup ($8), a dusky concoction with a smoky flavour and a subtle zing.

Perfect company for the chicken taquitos ($14) with an amazing homemade guacamole. Dip the taquitos in the soup and your tastebuds will hang 10 on your tongue.

Next up Peaches and I puzzled over the duck confit papusas with caramelized shallots hunkered down in a dark pool of mole duck jus ($12). These three small pale critters resembled some kind of outer-space pods. But the innards were savoury and the sauce amazing with the slightest sweet tinge to offset the quacker fat.

We forged ahead with grilled Gulf of Mexico prawns squaring off on the plate with star anise-speckled pane bread capped with pasilla corn flan ($16). Beautiful crustaceans with a bit of chili oil to shake them out of their deep-sea slumber and the only puzzling aspect to this dish to me was the bread flan combination. The pasilla chili emanated a pleasing heat but the wiggly custard coagulation and moist bread didn’t seem to have any relationship with the sea life.

We ended with the flash-seared skirt steak with peppercorn adobo, a baby Tijuana Caesar and excellent chorizo hash ($15). It lives up to its billing and works all the textural and taste angles.

Y’know,” I said to Peaches. “I think this food might finally transform me into the Latin lover I was meant to be.”

“Yeah, well just don’t quit your day job,” she said.


Living la vita cobre.

RATINGS: Food: A Service: A

Atmosphere: A


Cobre Restaurant

Where: 52 Powell St., Vancouver

Payment/reservations: Major credit cards, 604-669-2396

Drinks: Fully licensed.

Hours: 5:30 p.m.-late every day.

© The Vancouver Province 2007


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