Tucked away just off the corner of Powell and Main Street in Vancouver, Cuchillo adds a hip and modern twist on South American cuisine.
The restaurant is warm and inviting. When we arrived we were seated on a long bench that stretched almost the entire length of the restaurant. The relaxed atmosphere was enhanced by the glass lanterns suspended over the tables from the high ceiling. Our waitress was attentive and offered recommendations of classic lime margaritas and virgin mojitos. Great service and fabulous drinks raised our expectations for the dinner ahead.
We started with the jicama pear salad. Thick slices of slightly sweet jicama, tender pear and savory cucumber set us up for three levels of cool. The light coating of the tajin vinaigrette infused this refreshing salad with sudden bursts of spice that quickly subsided to a zesty aftertaste. We had a side of azul cornbread to accompany the salad. The fluffy, warm cornbread paired perfectly with the chilled slices of butter seasoned with guajillo chilies.
Next we sampled the wild mushroom tacos. This dish was attractively served on corn tortillas filled with tender mushrooms, hummus, huitlacoche (corn fungus) and tomato salsa and topped with micro greens. The flavours were more delicate than the cornbread and salad, making a nice break.
We tried the fried yucca poutine with a mole beef gravy and cheese curds. The rich aroma was almost enough to fill us up. The shredded beef in the gravy melted in our mouths, and the subtle warmth that accompanied the mole was otherworldly. The yucca (cassava) was slightly more fibrous than the usual potatoes you find in poutine, and the soft cheese curds were reminiscent of a classic Montréal poutine.
Next we tried the roasted palm hearts. The dish, which sounded and looked fantastic, was the only letdown of the night. The palm hearts were beautifully arranged on a bed of steamed kale and asparagus, and smothered in tangy, smoky tomato salsa. While the palm was luscious and had a buttery texture, the flavour was lost in the salty, tough stems of the kale.
We ended our adventure with the dessert of the day: a beautiful cup of chocolate mousse topped with grilled pineapple, covered in whipped cream, drizzled with caramel and garnished with two crispy churros, just waiting to be inhaled. The fresh churros were not greasy and had the perfect level of cinnamon sweetness expected in this classic Spanish dessert.
At the end of the night we made a toast to the restaurant Cuchillo with our churros, thanking them for taking us to a whole new world of flavour.