I love tapas. I really do. The small bits and bites and sharing and tasting and comparing notes on flavour combos. I love it.
I guess it’s no surprise that I’m a sucker to try a new #tapas restaurant any time I have the opportunity.
Like many other spots I’ve dined at, I came across Patria on blogTO and have been looking for an excuse to give it a try. Alas, while strolling through the King West neighbourhood, my dreams were realized.
Patria is a Spanish tapas eatery with a menu executed by Executive Chef Ben Heaton. The restaurant also has an endless wine menu, perfect to pair with every and any flavour profile (and mood) you could ever dream of having.
Beyond an open gate and funky vintage sign, #Patria is tucked away from the commotion of King Street. An outdoor patio seats guests in the summer but in the chill of early October, guests like Chris and I were seated inside.
Between you and I, we weren’t sure that Patria was even open when we first approached its doors. Long dark drapes and dim lighting don’t really say, “We’re here, we’re open, come on in!” but they do add to the mystery and ambiance of what your dining experience will be, and that’s exciting.
Stepping inside, I was sort of surprised. The vibes, the feel, the look did not reflect the homely stitched emblem of Patria. Though the back wall did showcase their signature red, brown and white stitched patterning, the rest of the space was quite modern with hanging gold light fixtures, a glass staircase (leading to a separate seating area) and an impressively stocked bar. The layout was also quite lovely as we could see the open kitchen and watch dishes be created in the work space from our table.
If that wasn't enough, their decor was also quite a talking piece and I found myself oohing and ahhing at the hanging meat cleavers casually hanging on a back wall as guests dined. Just really cool.
After some time with the menus, it was time to drink and most importantly, eat.
To pair with my meal, I decided on a glass of Can Xa Brut, Xarel-Lo, Macabeo, Parellada N/V did not disappoint. A sparkling Spanish wine, Cava is similar in taste to Champagne. Yeasty, fermented, and less fruity than a Prosecco.
As for the menu, we sampled:
House Marinated Olives
Citrusy, warm, great spices
Dates + House Bacon + Manchego + Guindillas
Oozing with creaminess and rich in texture from bacon and smooth dates
Selección de Embutidos
Ibérico Lomo + Ibérico Chorizo + Jamón Serrano + Salchichón
Velvety, spicy, meaty, buttery
Slow Cooked Meat + Guindilla Sauce + Mojo Picón
Adorable teeny tiny size, beware that acidic Guindilla sauce!
Bombas con Salsa Brava
House Chorizo + Aioli + Spicy Piquillo Sauce
Potato, cheese and chorizo are the base of these soft little bombs, which can quickly become a messy feat to finish
Wagyu Meatballs + Spicy Tomato Piperade + Onion + Manchego
Great tomato sauce, but meatballs lacking
And for dessert:
Tarta de Higo
Fresh figs, almond pastry cream, orange blossom custard, malvasia wine
Loved the figs and wine glaze but neither the cream nor custard tasted as floral or nutty as they did poetic
Helado de Limón
Lemon ice cream
A welcomed palate cleanser
Overall, I’m glad that I finally tried Patria. It offers just another type of cuisine on the multi-faceted line of King Street West dining. The food was creative, especially in its presentation with drizzled sauces and dots and splashes of aioli or Guindilla Sauce.
The service was also outstanding. Our waiter was very attentive and every server that visited our table was very knowledgeable about the food they were delivering to each table. This hospitality reflected into the atmosphere and helped to create a warm ambiance.
All of that said, I would probably save dining here for light bites. Cocktail and a small charcuterie or cheese plate would be great to share with someone as a pre/post dinner snack.
Likewise, I think your wallet would also be happier if the dining was kept to a minimum. Tapas can easily add up considering the small size but hefty price tag on these little plates.
The wine list also means business. Only the first page of an extensive wine and liquor menu served wine by the glass. This is understandable considering the cost of some really lavish wines they carry, try Dominio de Pingus 'Pingus', Tempranillo 2012 for $2,000 a bottle!
Personally, I didn’t find that there was any dish that really stood out to me. Chris really enjoyed the Dátiles, and I’d agree that it was one of my favourite bites. However, plates like the Albondigas and Bombas were a little lackluster considering the extravagance of the ingredients (ie, wagyu beef). I will also give the lemon ice cream a shout out. I enjoyed the candied lemon zest scattered around our two little mounds of lemony cream.
What can I say? My heart belongs to the Distillery Distruct’s Madrina Bar Y Tapas. It also belongs to a surprising little fixture in Winnipeg’s core, called Segovia Tapas Bar & Restaurant. FYI, you can look forward to a post on that very soon!
Where's your favourite place to grab tapas in the city?