One of Toronto’s most celebrated chefs, Claudio Aprile, of Colborne Lane and Origin, as well as a judge on Master Chef of Canada, has opened a new incarnation within his old space Origin. Still located at 107 King Street East on the south-east corner, at Church Street. The new spot is called Copetin, which means, “drop in, social, and casual”, named by his Uruguayan mother. It is a new multi concept venture, which is no easy task. There are three sections of the restaurant, and each has its own creative menu. The small kitchen is smack dab in the middle of the restaurant as well as a prep kitchen in the basement. I don’t know how they manage it all, but they do. In fact, this is food to get excited about. The dishes are inspired by the chef’s travels, while celebrating the diverse ethnic mosaic of the neighbourhoods of Toronto. This all gives you an eclectic menu of tastes.
The patio serves snacks like duck tacos with hoisin, cucumber and creme fraiche. Or, Korean fried chicken with pickled Dijon and cashews. Plus a variety of tostatas with innovative toppings. The bar served up some imaginative craft cocktails. I enjoyed a Sour Saint, which had botanist gin, Aperol, lemon juice, and egg whites to give it a beautiful froth, and topped it with a strawberry, basil syrup.
The lounge, which was packed had a menu of salads, burgers, sandwiches and sweets. These can be accompanied by lagers, alcoholic shakes and teas and craft cocktails.
The dining room has a small but well-curated menu, and all are beautifully presented. Everything on the menu looked great, and every dish we ordered was beyond satisfying. There is a depth and complexity to each bite. The lobster ceviche is in a tiger de leche with Asian pear and accompanied with a puffed squid ink cracker. The beet salad has a stracciatella cheese, salsa verde, sumac and date dressing and is presented with a swirl of almond milk. One of the best versions I’ve had in a long time. I want to try the octopus on my next visit, which is done in a green curry, creme fraiche, grapefruit and compressed cucumber with jicama.
The ricotta gnudi with spring peas and artichoke in a Reggiano broth were heavenly pillows of perfection. The tea smoked squab, with shiitake mushrooms, on a bed of farro and sunflower seeds, with a grilled plum was great dish – cooked to perfection. Another winner was the lamb loin over a bed of black lentils, topped with Vichy carrots and pistachios, with mint and harissa dipping sauces. Lastly, we had the sea scallops in a spicy Thai curry, with coconut and taro root. My only note, the Parmesan crisp, was not crisp enough.
There really is a refined cooking, depth, and complexity to these dishes. Every dish made me smile. There are two other entrees we didn’t get around to, a wagyu striploin and a seabream. Our sever Annie was so knowledgeable and descriptive, she explained each course in detail. I told her she could work in a Michelin starred restaurant.
The menu is great for sharing and trying lots of options. However, the guests next to us just ordered steak, wine and shared a dessert. There is no pressure to over order here.
The place, especially the lounge and private dining room, have a rock-n-roll edge to it, with an energized atmosphere, artwork and album covers of rock, jazz and country stars. The restaurant seats 80, divided between the bar, chef’s counter, and dining rooms. The patio adds another 60 seats.
My only complaint is it is difficult to have a conversation. It’s not that the music is too loud, but with all the hard surfaces, the conversation gets too loud. But the place has a buzz and a cool vibe. And, more importantly, the food was bursting with flavour and every dish was exciting in a different way.