Restaurant: Cobre Nuevo Latino Restaurant
Cuisine: Latin American/Mexican/Tapas/Fusion
Last visited: June 14, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Gastown/Downtown)
Address: 52 Powell St
Price Range: $20-30, 30-50+
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 3.5 – 4
- Modern Latin cuisine
- Casual fine dining
- Latin fusion tapas
- Seasonal menu
- Daily features
- Good for groups of 3-4
- Great presentation
- Award winning
- Sophisticated/posh atmosphere
- Extensive wine/drink list
- Same owners as Pekinpah & Deacon’s Corner
- Monday – Sunday 5pm – Late
**Recommendations: Pemberton Meadows Pulled Beef Croquette, Maple Chipotle Tamarind Glazed Wild Boar Belly, and Coconut Banana Cream Phyllo Stack. The Duck Tacos are supposed to be a hit, but I didn’t get to try them.
I hear very mixed opinions on Cobre Nuevo Latino, and I’m glad I finally got to suss it out myself. I was invited for a friendly get together (not by the restaurant) where I guess you could say Latin was the theme. Being in Vancouver the choices for Latin food are already limited, so when it comes to “high end” or gourmet South American cuisine, it’s even more limited and Cobre Nuevo Latino seems to be the only option.
Located in downtown Vancouver’s Gastown, Cobre Nuevo Latino is supposed to be a “blend of Mexican, Cuban and Argentinian flavors”, but I found it more West Coast or Pacific Northwest fusion with a little Latin influence.
Chances are if you’re Latin or you’re familiar with Latin food and you come in expecting authentic Latin food, you’ll hate Cobre and think it’s watered down and probably pricey. However if you come in expecting modern or fusion Latin food you won’t be as disappointed and might like it. Lastly if you come in expecting West Coast food with some Latin flare or influence, you could very well enjoy Cobre and recommend it.
For me it was very reminiscent of how I feel about Charm Modern Thai or Wild Rice Modern Cuisine. Don’t expect authentic, it’s not in the name and it’s not trying to be, so you have to let go of that idea. I really like fusion food, but I find it really hard to nail as it often gets butchered. I let go of the “authentic” idea coming in, but a few things still fell flat and seemed either mild, under seasoned or overpriced (all tapas $15).
The atmosphere and vibe of Cobre is enjoyable and the service was friendly although very slow at times. I’d also strongly suggest coming with a group of three, because it’s all about shared dining and everything comes in 3. I wouldn’t have guessed it was a Latin fusion restaurant if I didn’t already know and they are doing something new and different which I can appreciate. The value wasn’t too great and more in the experience than the food for me, but it was better than I expected and there’s not much else in this category.
On the table:
- White Wine, Triple Sec, Mango and Papaya $8
- I’m not sure if they have an in house bartender, but they should considering their extensive wine and cocktail list.
- They had a red, rose and white sangria and apparently this one was supposed to be the sweetest. I couldn’t decide between red and white and just had our server surprise me.
- It actually wasn’t that sweet or fruity at all and it was heavy on the wine and orangey Triple Sec.
- There were cubes of fresh papaya and one piece of fresh mango and I wish the fruit was pureed or muddled into the actual drink.
- It was more on the tangy side and I wasn’t a fan of it because it didn’t taste like a Sangria. I prefer the white sangria at The Edge Social Grille & Lounge.
Roasted Baby Corn in Husks – 4/6
- 3 for $5
- This is served as a side and it was one of the daily specials.
- It was my first time trying freshly roasted baby corn in a husk. The entire husk was edible too.
- It was very simple, roasted in olive oil, char-grilled, and sprinkled with a bit of coarse salt.
- The husks are fiberous, but soft and it was sweeter than the actual baby corn.
- The baby corn was tender yet crunchy and a bit sweet and also smoky.
- It was a bit bland since the salt didn’t get to the corn though and I wish it had a chipotle aioli dip on the side.
- Heirloom tomato salad with Buffalo Mozzarella, charred pablanos and sweet chili vinaigrette $8
- This was good and made with fresh ingredients, but it seemed more Italian than Latin to me.
- It was drizzled with some tangy syrupy balsamic glaze and fruity olive oil that wasn’t spicy at all.
- There was also some smoky charred pablano peppers to contrast the sweet tomatoes which was nice and I guess that was the only real Latin part.
- There was some mint as well and it was a very juicy well dressed salad, but it’s not something I’d have to have at Cobre.
Steelhead Trout Ceviche – 3.5/6
- Steelhead Trout, pineapples, Thai basil, cucumbers, choyote, fresh jalapeno, and crispy trout skin $13
- This was more like a salad than it was a ceviche. It was also more Thai fusion than Latin.
- It had great flavour, aromatics and texture, but I wish it was more minced and more like a ceviche.
- The Steelhead Trout was a West Coast choice and it absorbed the juices well, but having it in strips almost made it seem more like a salad.
- It was sweet and tangy from the juicy pineapples and refreshing from the crunch of the marinated cucumbers and thin strips of choyote (zucchini meets a melon).
- The vegetables helped cut the heat since it carried a nice spice from fresh jalapenos and chili flakes.
- There was a great balance of spice and tang, but the ingredients were so chunky and big it all seemed a bit separate.
- The best part was the crispy bits of deep fried trout skin which added nice crunch to the ceviche, but at times they came across as eggshells in texture.
- Cornbread azul famoso y sweet chili butter $5
- It tasted like blue corn tortilla chips in corn bread form.
- It was more savoury and smoky than sweet and it was very buttery, incredibly soft and almost mushy.
- It was topped with thin slices of sweet chili butter which didn’t melt and I thought it was cheese at first.
- The butter was more savoury than it was sweet or spicy.
- The corn bread also wasn’t hot enough to melt the butter and they were too soft so the butter wasn’t spreadable either.
Qualicum Beach Diver Caught Scallops – 3.5/6
- Butter browned fresh hearts of palm, coconut bisque $15 (for 3 scallops)
- This was good, but I found it overpriced. This was a double order and one order comes with 3 scallops, which I find pricey.
- This was also more West Coast Asian fusion than Latin fusion to me.
- The scallops were tender and sweet and seared on both sides, but the pan wasn’t hot enough and they weren’t seared very well.
- It was a rather sweet dish with the coconut bisque and I could actually taste a good amount of lobster infusion in the sauce. It was a creamy rich sauce, but slightly under seasoned.
- I loved the crispy deep fried shallots and there were also some crushed pumpkin seeds to give the dish some additional texture.
- The hearts of palm were sauteed in butter and perfectly tender and moist, but also a bit under seasoned.
- They’re delicate in flavour and taste like mild crunchy asparagus stems and they were a bit tangy from perhaps a bit of lemon.
- Fresh hearts of palm were a great side to the scallops and nice to see since they’re rarely offered on any menu.
**Pemberton Meadows Pulled Beef Croquette – 4/6
- Jalapeno roasted garlic chimichurri $15
- I really like croquettes and pulled beef, so naturally I would be more inclined to like this dish, and I did.
- Again it was slightly under seasoned and lacking in spices and salt, but it was also the only thing that seemed a bit more “Nuevo Latino”.
- An order comes with 3 jumbo croquettes and they were quite filling, not greasy, and well made so I did see value in this dish.
- It was panko crusted and fried to perfection and I loved the crunchy contrast with the soft and tender creamy filling.
- Each croquette was generously filled with creamy, tender, juicy, melt in your mouth pulled beef coated in a buttery beef au jus gravy.
- It was quite rich and I guess the crunch and heat of the jalapeno was supposed to balance things out, but I wish it was more incorporated.
- The chimchimchurri sauce works better as a marinade than a topping and I found it too mild for the croquette.
- The sauce tasted like pureed cilantro, parsley and herbs with a bit of garlic and lime, but it was under seasoned even when eaten by itself. A salsa verde might have worked better.
- Overall it was missing something and it was richer in texture than it was in flavour.
- Pipian verde, butter browned corn arepas $15
- I loved the concept and the ingredients, but the execution was a bit off.
- Pipian verde is a mole sauce and in this case it was more like a salsa. It was made with green tomatoes, cilantro, lettuce, garlic, green onions, pumpkin seeds and green apples.
- The green apples were a great twist and it brightened up the flavours.
- I could taste the crunchy textures of sweet and tart apples, nutty pumpkin seeds and fresh herbs, but it still needed more acidity and salt.
- The prawns were tender, but the weight of the arepas kind of overpowered them.
- There was lots of corn in the pan fried crispy arepas (corn cakes), but they were very starchy and also a bit under seasoned.
- The corn kernels got very overcooked and starchy and it just got stuck in your teeth.
**Maple Chipotle Tamarind Glazed Wild Boar Belly – 5.5/6
- Chicharon y patacones $15 (4 pieces)
- This was a double order and a single order usually comes with 4 pieces.
- This was easily the best dish of the night.
- It’s very hearty and rich, but incredibly delicious and worth every bit of guilty indulgence. Yes, pork belly is always good, but this was great!
- It was a bold, rich, very sweet and syrupy sauce that just coated each piece of melt in your mouth pork belly.
- The sauce was almost like a Sweet Thai chili sauce meets plum sauce with a bit of reduced tamarind for tang.
- The pork belly had a great ratio of creamy buttery fat and lean juicy tender pork meat and together the combination was orgasmic.
- I don’t like too much pork fat and this one was the perfect balance.
- It was topped with crispy pork skin “sprinkles” which gave it a nice crunch and I love the little bit of freshly minced red onion to “lighten” it up.
- It was predominant sweet and slightly tangy followed by a slight heat.
- I didn’t really understand it being served on top of patacones (fried plantains), because the patacones just got very soggy and you couldn’t taste their flavour.
- It would be nice to have it served with jicama slaw to cut the richness, but if it was a starch I’d prefer their buttermilk mashed papas to soak up the remaining sauce and make it perfect comfort food.
**Coconut Banana Cream Phyllo Stack – 4/6
- Coconut custard, white chocolate horchata ganache, Ancho chili chocolate drizzle, crushed hazelnuts $8
- I loved all the ingredients in this dessert so I knew I would like this. It was the flavours of a banana and coconut cream pie.
- I wish the bananas were caramelized and hot, but they were still good in their natural state.
- I also think toasted dried coconut would be nice in addition with more crushed hazelnuts.
- The coconut flavour was quite subtle and aromatic with coconut cream or milk in the creamy smooth custard.
- I loved the textures of this dish and it was creamy, rich, yet light with layers of thin flaky crispy phyllo and also a cakey layer in between.
- The white chocolate ganache was fluffy with a hint of almond flavour and it added a bit of nutty sweetness.
- It was a well balanced dessert with a slight heat from the ancho chili chocolate drizzle too.
- It was creative, well thought out and I would order it again.
- Tamarind butterscotch, caramelized pineapple, whipped cream, cinnamon espresso churro $8
- This was incredibly sweet and indulgent and just too rich and sweet for me.
- It was very good dulce de leche, but a whole martini glass full of it, is just too much.
- It was very thick and creamy and almost like a very dense condensed milk and caramel pudding in texture and flavour.
- It was very indulgent and intense with buttery butterscotch flavour and almost hurt your teeth sweet. I couldn’t taste the tang of the tamarind.
- There were only a few slices of thinly sliced caramelized pineapple on top which gave it some tang, but after that it was one note.
- I did love the home made deep fried cinnamon and sugar churro twists, but I couldn’t taste the espresso. They were great dipped in the dulce de leche though.
Steelhead ceviche ? is this West Coast version of ceviche, like lemon chicken…a takeoff of what was originally a peasant dish…adding pineapple ? I feel salmon is too distinctive in taste to make into ceviche, stick with white fish(not scallops). Buffalo mozza w. heirloom tomatoes is Latin ? How about a jimca, avocado, radish and orange salad, a tomato avocado and black bean salad or a quinoa salad? Those are Latin American. How about a Lechon de Mechar(eye of the round beef stuffed w.achiote, onion, ham, tomato,etc.) instead of a croquette? I could go on, but this place is definitely West Coast.
I gotta say that I really liked this review because I feel that you really nailed lots of good points while still showing the great things that this restaurants still has. I gotta admit that when I had the “pork belly” I had to close my eyes and remind myself that it wasn’t “real latino food”…that way I was able to really enjoyed the pork without criticizing the dish before trying it. I found the pork to be really good but a bit too sweet for me, especially with the “patacones maduros” (they used the ripped plantain, which is sweeter)…but good nonetheless.
@Bow: I agree with you with everything you said. The “croquettes” idea is not that far off, I think, since in Spanish food “croquetas” (croquettes) can be found…so in some Latin countries there are “croquette”-liked dishes, but not as popular as the Lechon (or a bunch of other stuff…) 🙂
@Bow – I agree with the white fish for ceviche. I actually enjoy scallop ceviche though. I love your suggestions bow… yup I found it much more West Coast, but it doesn’t seem to bother the majority of people.
@Mau – thanks Mau!! I’m really happy you commented on this because I know this is your area of food right? I agree it was on the sweet side and the patacones weren’t my liking so that’s why I dinged the .5. Looks like we’re on the same page! I personally LOVE croquettes, but in Spain it was hard to find non-frozen one. My friends mom gave me the recipe when I was there and I was able to make them here… so time consuming though!! LOVE THEM!
This place looks interesting, I want to try it! You can me at croquettes!! =)
@Dilara – Me too!! LOVE CROQUETTES!!
mmmmm this place looks delicious! you’ve chosen the best picture to represent it too! who doesn’t love pork/boar belly?!?!
lol when i first saw the corn i thought it was okra in the picture! even though it was slightly sweet, i was sorta hoping that it would be SUPER sweet just because the corn is so young! i like that the husks are edible too!
oo the corn bread looks so dry and kinda scary considering that its blue! aside from the boar belly, i thought the dishes here would be more.. innovative? but they seem sorta plain.. well the beef croquettes look super yummy though and i’d definitely order the boar belly! which reminds me, i totally went to cafe regalade after reading your post and the food there was AMAZING!
@linda – yes! Read my description, the husks ARE edible!! 😀 I loved them! YAY!!! you went to Cafe Regalade?!?!? AWESOME!! You ARE narrowing down your list!!! EXCITED!