The highly anticipated Como Taperia is on track to open to the public next week after a series of friends and family services. The new Spanish-inspired restaurant is located in the brand new Ellsworth building on the northeast corner of 7th Avenue and Main Street, right at the start of Mt. Pleasant’s South Main strip.
I’ve been tracking the development of Como with no small amount of excitement since we first announced its coming some eight months ago. The 60 seat restaurant is the work of award-winning bartender (and longtime Scout contributor) Shaun Layton, Meat & Bread co-founder Frankie Harrington, and former Clayoquot Wilderness Resort chef Justin Witcher.
It’s been a long time coming. I first got wind of their plans almost two years ago as they started scouting for an appropriate location, but the project was in the works well before that. Good things take time. In preparation, the trio rather indulgently/wisely enjoyed a few “research” trips to Spain to zero in on the kind of drinking and dining experience they were looking for. This extra effort shows in just about every facet of Como, from the bustling open kitchen and bar height display case (filled with stuffed olives and such) to the breadth of tapas dishes and many elaborate iterations of gin and tonic. The feel of the room is decidedly casual, too. There were no bar stools yet on the night that I ate my fill (Tuesday, November 20), so the standing about and gabbing between sips and bites felt like the real deal.
The food was exactly what I was hoping it would be, which is to say small, simple plates of concentrated, impactful flavour. Think little hamburguesas with foie gras dip (pictured above); meatballs in sweet/savoury sauce; plump, tightly encased jamon croquettas that burst on the tooth; lively patatas bravas, shrivelled shishito peppers (always a spice lottery), gorgeous octopus done three or four ways, bikini sandos (named after a grilled ham and cheese sandwich served from a cart outside a Barcelona nightclub called “Bikini”); dollops of Russian salad; and plenty more. The eating is piecemeal and quick; the barrage is a freaking delight.
The design is by Ste. Marie with branding/identity by Glasfurd & Walker — the same collaborators responsible for the good looks of some of Vancouver’s most beautiful restaurants (eg. Kissa Tanto, Savio Volpe, St. Lawrence). Though the interior needs a little finishing and there’s still some fiddling with systems to be done (I think I spied a printer down), I don’t think I’d be making a bold prediction by saying that Como Taperia is going to be a hit. Consider the elements: They’ve got an excellent team working the front and back (more on that here), ownership is constantly present, the food and drink are finely tuned, the prices are fair, and the location is inarguably among the better ones of 2018’s crop of new restaurants. The arithmetic is just correct. If they aren’t at capacity every night from day one, I’d be gobsmacked.
Como does not officially open to the public until Monday, November 26th. These images will give you an idea of what to expect…