DINER: Inside Cooper & Irving’s “Cuchillo” At Main & Powell (On Track For Late May)
by Andrew Morrison | It might not look like it from the photos above, but Stu Irving and John Cooper’s Latin American-themed Cuchillo restaurant is getting close. Despite a few hiccups here and there, construction appears to be coming along nicely. Here’s some of the skinny that we first reported back in January…
Restaurant wonks and food lovers will be happy to learn that the main floor of the old building at 261 Powell St. (next to Bean Around The World and Big Lou’s Butcher Shop) has been picked up by a pair of industry veterans who are aiming to turn the raw shell of the place into a 93 seat restaurant by the end of Spring 2013.
Those same folks will remember chef Stu Irving (above right) from his days at Cobre, Wild Rice, Bin 941 and, most recently, The Diamond, but they’ll have to go way back to recall his business partner, John Cooper (left above). Cooper used to work with Irving at Raintree in its 1990′s Gastown heyday, back when the now long defunct restaurant was nurturing the early careers of Michael Dinn (JoieFarm), Tyson Reimer (Peckinpah), Andy Crimp (ex-Chambar), Karen Barnaby (Fish House), and many more (it shuttered in 2002). He only just returned to the front of house this year.
Their new project is called Cuchillo (Spanish for “Knife”). The food concept sounds like a slightly more health-conscious evolution of Irving’s work at Cobre, which closed last year after its lease came to an end (it is now another location of Rodney’s Oyster House). From what I understand, the plates will be modern interpretations and presentations of dishes that would be recognized by the peoples and cuisines of Latin America, so if I were to give it a name, I’d call it Modern Pan-Latin. Though there will be plenty of meat on the menu, expect to see some vegan/vegetarian stuff on it as well, albeit without any lifestyle harpery (Cooper is a vegetarian, but he’s not the least bit evangelical about it).
It’s an old space that hasn’t seen a business in 30 years, so it’s been something of a challenge. I recently toured the space again and dug what I saw, especially the mosaic work fronting Irving’s open kitchen. It should be gorgeous when it’s finished. I’m also really looking forward to seeing what Erin Sinclair (of This Is East Van book fame) will do with the feature wall next to the entrance (a layered mural, from what I’m told). Cuchillo is still on track for a late Spring opening. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t open before the end of May.