Patria - Spanish Tapas
|Nelson @PatriaTO: This hidden restaurant might be a little too hard to find. From the street, there is an ornamented gate with the name of the restaurant camouflaged in the metalwork. From there walk forward and keep walking until you see tables for dining. This restaurant specializes in Spanish Tapas and we start with these Croquet as de Pollo, roasted chicken croquettes + citrus aioli ($9). Might be a bit tough to see from this angle, but the sauce is laid down in a shape of a heart. The chicken taste really comes through and perhaps because it isn't excessively battered and well fried.|
|This is ensalada de Alcachofas fritas con queso Manchego ($14) or shaved fennel, radish, manchego and crispy artichokes. First thing I noticed is that it was really salty, but it also tasted good. I like the crispy artichokes a lot and they really stood out. The amount of cheese and dressing was well balanced, and overall this simple salad was surpringly good.|
|This is a plate of Spanish charcuterie going from left to right are Jamon Serrano, Iberico Lomo, Morcon Salami adn Iberico Chorizo ($16). We had a one or two too many people to be able to share this platter effectively so we all had small tastes of these meats. The chorizo on the far right had a strange taste that I was not familiar with and I didn't like that much. My favourite was the Iberico Lomo which had the strongest and most pleasant flavour. Only now that I look it up do I realize that it is a designated type of ham where the pigs are fed acorns. The ham takes three years to age! It's very expensive and it also happened to taste the best to me.|
|This is a cheese called D.O Cabrales with artisanal made cow, goat, sheep's milk cheese aged in lime stone caves served with quince jam and sourdough bread ($9). Once again this was very difficult to share and we probably should have ordered more. The cheese itself was a bit plain without a strong goat flavour. Overall it was ok, not spectacular, but still good. The jam was served in an interesting shape and it had a citrus flavour to it.|
|Empanadas de carne mixta with slow cooked meat, guindilla sauce and mojo picon ($12). These were slightly dry, but still pretty good because the oil and sauce made it good. The pork(?) inside had a wonderful smoky flavour.|
|This is a meat dish called bistec a la parrila with prime beef striploin, padron peppers and crispy potato ($34). First, the potato are so thin that they are chip-like, plus the flavouring made them taste like BBQ chips. I loved them. Usually I'm not a big fan of toppings on steak, but this topping enhanced the flavours. The steak was cooked well, but it was a bit chewy. The jalapeno looking peppers, were suprisingly not spicy whatsoever, but upon further reading now I've learned from wikipedia that 10-25% of them are extremely spicy. Guess I got lucky..or unlucky? Great dish overall and I wish we weren't eating family style for this dish.|
Finally after a 45 minute cook time is the Paella Patria with bay scallops, shrimp, mussels, cuttlefish, monkfish, snap peas and saffron ($49). This was the highligh of the meal and it was amazing. There was really strong seafood flavours present in the rice and it was nicely moist too. Delicious.
We also had some sangria (not pictured) and it had some spice to it!
I remember coming away from this meal somewhat disappointed, but after reading my notes and what I typed out above this sounds like a really good meal. I think our problem was that we had too many people sharing too little food, so we only had a tiny taste of each dish. Really our fault I guess and we should have ordered more quantities. We came away a little hungry and much lighter wallets, so perhaps not the best value, but at least there were some good dishes here.
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