Restaurant News & Reviews

Latin spirit at La Cosecha in Paso Robles

At La Cosecha in Paso Robles, the grilled rack of lamb is served with salsa verde.
At La Cosecha in Paso Robles, the grilled rack of lamb is served with salsa verde.

With La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant, the husband-and-wife team of Chef Santos and Carole MacDonal have created another signature dining experience in Paso Robles.

The MacDonals previously opened Il Cortile, a nearby Italian restaurant, in November 2009 (and still own and operate it). They were hoping to get a full liquor license for that location when the opportunity to launch another venture presented itself.

“It really kind of just happened,” said Carole. “The liquor license became available right when this location did, and Santos said, ‘What do you think?’ ”

The couple forged ahead and opened La Cosecha on July 5.

Previously a restaurant, the space already sported high ceilings and a full wall of exposed brick. For La Cosecha, the rustic features were further accented with tables crafted from reclaimed wood, and several stylish lighting fixtures lend just the right balance of urban energy. The front of the dining room has also been opened up to take full advantage of the scenic location right on the downtown park.

La Cosecha (pronounced “la co-say-cha”) is Spanish for “the harvest,” and Chef Santos is focusing on the cuisines of Spain, South America and Central America — especially that of his native Honduras.

As a result, you can expect distinct seasonings such as cumin, lemon and tamarind, but they aren’t used in a way that overpowers the main ingredients. It’s more of a laying of flavors, said Carole, “Santos uses just a few things to really bring out the flavors.”

Though the menu changes frequently and seasonally, some of the signature dishes that have already emerged are a black bean soup topped with shredded duck confit, the beef and potato pastelitos catracho (Honduran empanadas, a savory stuffed pastry), and the shrimp skewers with aji amarillo (a Peruvian yellow chile) sauce. Other popular dishes are the grilled pork chop with a pear honey glaze, the Cornish game hen with Serrano ham, and the trio of braised meats paired with different starches — pork and baked potato, beef and mashed plantains, lamb and sweet white mashed potatoes.

In keeping with the restaurant’s name and Chef Santos’ dedication to fresh ingredients, there’s also a different ceviche, soup and paella offered each day, and other specials typically reflect what’s available at local farmers markets.

Carole noted that La Cosecha is extending this fresh, from-scratch seasonal approach to its Latin-inspired craft cocktail program as well. Currently, there’s a Peruvian fizzare with pisco (a Peruvian grape brandy) and housemade simple syrup, a seasonal caipriniha made with cachaça (a Brazilian cane sugar spirit), and an otoño espumantes — a sparkling fall cocktail with pear vodka, St. Germaine (an elderflower liqueur) and Spanish cava.

Other potent potables include five draft beers, including a Spanish lager, plus an intriguing wine list. You’ll find Spanish varietals such as albariño (white wine) and garnacha (red Grenache) from Central Coast labels, plus offerings from Argentina, Chile and Spain.

La Cosecha is celebrating its local roots by participating in events such as Industry Nights, San Luis Obispo County’s “3 for $30” January Restaurant Month and Paso’s “Third Thursdays” — a concept supported by several businesses to benefit the North County nonprofit Must Charities. (On Jan. 16, La Cosecha will host a beer pairing dinner with BarrelHouse Brewing Co. of Paso Robles.)

“We’re trying to have some fun with all these events,” said Carole “and overall we’ve really been given a very warm welcome.”